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Virology. 2007 Mar 1;359(1):179-89. Epub 2006 Oct 10.

Microplitis demolitor bracovirus genome segments vary in abundance and are individually packaged in virions.

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  • 1Department of Entomology and Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


Polydnaviruses (PDVs) are distinguished by their unique association with parasitoid wasps and their segmented, double-stranded (ds) DNA genomes that are non-equimolar in abundance. Relatively little is actually known, however, about genome packaging or segment abundance of these viruses. Here, we conducted electron microscopy (EM) and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) studies to characterize packaging and segment abundance of Microplitis demolitor bracovirus (MdBV). Like other PDVs, MdBV replicates in the ovaries of females where virions accumulate to form a suspension called calyx fluid. Wasps then inject a quantity of calyx fluid when ovipositing into hosts. The MdBV genome consists of 15 segments that range from 3.6 (segment A) to 34.3 kb (segment O). EM analysis indicated that MdBV virions contain a single nucleocapsid that encapsidates one circular DNA of variable size. We developed a semi-quantitative real-time PCR assay using SYBR Green I. This assay indicated that five (J, O, H, N and B) segments of the MdBV genome accounted for more than 60% of the viral DNAs in calyx fluid. Estimates of relative segment abundance using our real-time PCR assay were also very similar to DNA size distributions determined from micrographs. Analysis of parasitized Pseudoplusia includens larvae indicated that copy number of MdBV segments C, B and J varied between hosts but their relative abundance within a host was virtually identical to their abundance in calyx fluid. Among-tissue assays indicated that each viral segment was most abundant in hemocytes and least abundant in salivary glands. However, the relative abundance of each segment to one another was similar in all tissues. We also found no clear relationship between MdBV segment and transcript abundance in hemocytes and fat body.

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