Submitted to: Biocontrol Science and Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/14/2012
Publication Date: 1/1/2013
Citation: Gundersen, D.E., Dupuy, C., Huguet, E., Drezen, J. 2013. Polydnaviruses: Roles in insect pathology and applications. Biocontrol Science and Technology. 23:1-61. Interpretive Summary: Tiny wasps known as parasitoids have potential to control moth pests, such as caterpillars, of agricultural crops and forests. The survival of many of these wasps is enhanced by a virus, called a polydnavirus, that is injected along with the wasp egg into a host caterpillar pest. Recent use of modern molecular techniques to sequence and characterize the different forms of the virus and analyze the evolutionary history and is described here. This information will help explain how the polydnavirus may be formed and replicate, how the virus may help the wasp to survive, and how this could lead to new biocontrol strategies. This information will be of interest to university and industry scientists who are interested in virus evolution and/or in developing new virus-based strategies to control pests.
Technical Abstract: One of the more unusual groups of insect pathogens consists of members of the family Polydnaviridae, DNA insect viruses that live in mutual symbioses with their associated parasitoid wasp (Hymentoptera) carriers until they are injected into specific Lepidopteran hosts. Once inside this secondary host, polydnaviruses cause a wide variety of negative effects that ultimately ensure the survival of the parasitoid larvae. Because of their unusual life strategy and genetic features, it had been difficult to fully characterize polydnaviruses in terms of evolutionary history, replication cycle, and functions in the host that might normally be well- characterized for other conventional viruses. Recently, our understanding of polydnavirus evolutionary origins, gene content, genome organization, and functions in parasitism have greatly increased. Key findings are analyzed with emphasis on evolution of polydnavirus genes and genomes, their functional roles in insect pathology, and their potential applications in insect biological control and biotechnology.