The Discovery, Distribution, and Evolution of Viruses Associated with Drosophila melanogaster

PLoS Biology
Claire L WebsterDarren J Obbard

Abstract

Drosophila melanogaster is a valuable invertebrate model for viral infection and antiviral immunity, and is a focus for studies of insect-virus coevolution. Here we use a metagenomic approach to identify more than 20 previously undetected RNA viruses and a DNA virus associated with wild D. melanogaster. These viruses not only include distant relatives of known insect pathogens but also novel groups of insect-infecting viruses. By sequencing virus-derived small RNAs, we show that the viruses represent active infections of Drosophila. We find that the RNA viruses differ in the number and properties of their small RNAs, and we detect both siRNAs and a novel miRNA from the DNA virus. Analysis of small RNAs also allows us to identify putative viral sequences that lack detectable sequence similarity to known viruses. By surveying >2,000 individually collected wild adult Drosophila we show that more than 30% of D. melanogaster carry a detectable virus, and more than 6% carry multiple viruses. However, despite a high prevalence of the Wolbachia endosymbiont--which is known to be protective against virus infections in Drosophila--we were unable to detect any relationship between the presence of Wolbachia and the presence of any virus. U...Continue Reading

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