The Diachasmimorpha longicaudata entomopoxvirus (DlEPV) occurs in D. longicaudata female poison glands. DlEPV is injected into Anastrepha suspensa larvae and inhibits the hostís immune response against parasitoid larvae. DlEPV is maintained in wasp populations but the mechanism of transmission is unknown. We propose that DlEPV is transmitted as a virion or as viral DNA fragments inserted in the wasp genome. Our objectives are to determine if DlEPV proteins occur in the wasp ovaries and if DlEPV DNA is present in wasp nuclear DNA. Anti-DlEPV polyclonal sera with an FITC-labeled secondary antibody were used to detect DlEPV proteins in wasp ovaries. A digoxygenin labeled DlEPV DNA probe was used to screen a dot-blot of wasp nuclear DNA. DlEPV DNA is present in D. longicaudata nuclei and DlEPV proteins are present in the ovaries. DlEPV DNA in wasp nuclei suggests that viral DNA may be integrated in the wasp genome. While virions have never been observed in wasp ovaries, the immunolocalization of DlEPV proteins in these tissues suggests either that virions are present but were previously undetected or viral proteins back-flushed from the median oviduct into the ovaries. However, additional studies are required to confirm these preliminary results. Determining the mechanism of viral acquisition would provide valuable insights into the evolution of this virus/wasp relationship.
Supported by National Science Foundation IBN 9986076 and IBN 9514583
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