Submitted to: Psyche
Publication Type: Review article
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/15/2011
Publication Date: 1/1/2012
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/55884
Citation: Valles, S.M. 2012. Positive-strand RNA viruses infecting the Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta. Psyche. 2012:1-14. DOI:10.1155/2012/821591. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: The black imported fire ant (Solenopsis richteri) and red imported fire ant (S. invicta) are invasive species that were introduced into the United States between 1918 and 1945. Since that time, they have expanded their U.S. range to include some 138 million hectares from Virginia, south to Florida, and west to California. Their introduction has had significant economic consequences with costs associated with damage and prophylactic control efforts estimated at 6 billion dollars annually in the U.S. The general consensus of entomologists and myrmecologists is that permanent, sustainable control of S. invicta in the U.S. will likely depend on self-sustaining biological control agents. In an effort to identify virus infections of S. invicta, a metagenomics approach was employed successfully and resulted in discovery of three viruses. Solenopsis invicta virus 1 (SINV-1), SINV-2, and SINV-3 are all positive, single-stranded RNA viruses and represent the first viral discoveries in any ant species. SINV-1 is taxonomically placed in the Dicistroviridae while SINV-2 and SINV-3 are currently unclassified. Molecular characterization, host relationships, and potential development and use of SINV-1, SINV-2, and SINV-3 as biopesticides are discussed.