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J Invertebr Pathol. 2005 May;89(1):91-4.

Oryctes virus--time for a new look at a useful biocontrol agent.

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Biocontrol and Biosecurity, AgResearch. P.O. Box 60, Lincoln, New Zealand.


The introduction of Oryctes virus into outbreak areas of the rhinoceros beetle, Oryctes rhinoceros (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae), has been a major success for "classical" biocontrol with a virus and has led to a dramatic reduction in palm damage in many areas of the Asia/Pacific region. In recent years, however, there have been new reports of high levels of rhinoceros beetle damage to palms. Damage has been especially intense in SE Asia following the introduction of no-burn polices for land clearance and replanting, but outbreaks have also been reported from some Pacific Islands where control seems to have diminished over time. SE Asian studies show that there is considerable genetic variation among endemic Oryctes virus isolates and studies in new island release areas have shown rapid evolution of the virus. The consequences of such genetic variation are in need of further study. Furthermore, the taxonomic position of the virus is unclear, with its removal from the Baculoviridae to an "unassigned' virus, reflecting its novel characteristics. Genomic sequencing could help resolve the taxonomy of the virus and provide a basis for studying strain variation. Oryctes virus has achieved wide success in the past without the benefit of molecular analysis and identification techniques. In order to fully take advantage of this unique pathogen for protection of palms, a renewed, coordinated effort centered on genetic selection and distribution of effective strains is required.

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