Submitted to: Insect Pathology
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: June 30, 2011
Publication Date: February 15, 2012
Citation: Chen, Y., Becnel, J.J., Valles, S.M. 2012. RNA Viruses Infecting Pest Insects. In: Vega, F., Kaya, H.K., editors. Insect Pathology. 2nd edition. Amsterdam: Elsevier. p. 133-170. Technical Abstract: RNA viruses are viruses whose genetic material is ribonucleic acid (RNA). RNA viruses may be double or single-stranded based on the type of RNA they contain. Single-stranded RNA viruses can be further grouped into negative sense or positive-sense viruses according to the polarity of their RNA. Further, RNA viruses can also be categorized according to whether they have a lipid envelope, and whether they have single (non-fragmented) or multiple (fragmented) genomes. Like other viruses, RNA viruses infect a wide range of vertebrate and invertebrate hosts, including insects. Although the RNA viruses are the most prevalent group of viruses, those infecting insect pests are currently limited to six families: Nodaviridae (genus Alphanodavirus), Reoviridae (genus Cypvirus), Discistroviridae (genera Cripavirus and Aparavirus), Flaviridae (genus Flavivirus), Iflaviriade (genus Iflavirus), and Tetraviridae (genera Betatetravirus and Omegatetravirus). Over the past two decades, significant advances have been made in uncovering the fundamental molecular features of insect RNA viruses. While RNA viruses that infect beneficial insects are discussed elsewhere in this book, this chapter focuses on the RNA viruses infecting pest insects. Here, we provide an overview of the current understanding of morphology, genome organization, phylogeny, natural history, transmission and pathogenesis of these viruses. The prospects for future research and the potential of RNA viruses to be used as biocontrol agents in integrated pest management (IPM) are also discussed. The chapter should be of interest to the graduate students, researchers from academia and industry, and specialists in the field of entomology and virology or related field.