Marine Science Faculty Publications

Diverse Circular ssDNA Viruses Discovered in Dragonflies (Odonata: Epiprocta)

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Viruses with circular ssDNA genomes that encode a replication initiator protein (Rep) are among the smallest viruses known to infect both eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. In the past few years an overwhelming diversity of novel circular Rep-encoding ssDNA (CRESS-DNA) viruses has been unearthed from various hosts and environmental sources. Since there is limited information regarding CRESS-DNA viruses in invertebrates, this study explored the diversity of CRESS-DNA viruses circulating among insect populations by targeting dragonflies (Epiprocta), top insect predators that accumulate viruses from their insect prey over space and time. Using degenerate PCR and rolling circle amplification coupled with restriction digestion, 17 CRESS-DNA viral genomes were recovered from eight different dragonfly species collected in tropical and temperate regions. Nine of the genomes are similar to cycloviruses and represent five species within this genus, suggesting that cycloviruses are commonly associated with insects. Three of the CRESS-DNA viruses share conserved genomic features with recently described viruses similar to the mycovirus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum hypovirulence-associated DNA virus 1, leading to the proposal of the genus Gemycircularvirus. The remaining viruses are divergent species representing four novel CRESS-DNA viral genera, including a gokushovirus-like prokaryotic virus (microphage) and three eukaryotic viruses with Reps similar to circoviruses. The novelty of CRESS-DNA viruses identified in dragonflies using simple molecular techniques indicates that there is an unprecedented diversity of ssDNA viruses among insect populations.

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Journal of General Virology, v. 93, p. 2668-2681