Marine Science Faculty Publications

Discovery of a Novel Mastrevirus and Alphasatellite-like Circular DNA in Dragonflies (Epiprocta) from Puerto Rico

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Odonata, Dragonfly, Mastrevirus, Alphasatellite, Geminivirus

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Geminiviruses have emerged as serious agricultural pathogens. Despite all the species that have been already catalogued, new molecular techniques continue to expand the diversity and geographical ranges of these single-stranded DNA viruses and their associated satellite molecules. Since all geminiviruses are insect-transmitted, examination of insect vector populations through vector-enabled metagenomics (VEM) has been recently used to investigate the diversity of geminiviruses transmitted by a specific vector in a given region. Here we used a more comprehensive adaptation of the VEM approach by surveying small circular DNA viruses found within top insect predators, specifically dragonflies (Epiprocta). This ‘predator-enabled’ approach is not limited to viral groups transmitted by specific vectors since dragonflies can accumulate the wide range of viruses transmitted by their diverse insect prey. Analysis of six dragonflies collected from an agricultural field in Puerto Rico culminated in the discovery of the first mastrevirus (Dragonfly-associated mastrevirus; DfasMV) and alphasatellite molecule (Dragonfly-associated alphasatellite; Dfas-alphasatellite) from the Caribbean. Since DfasMV and Dfas-alphasatellite are divergent from the limited number of sequences that have been reported from the Americas, this study unequivocally demonstrates that there have been at least two independent past introductions of both mastreviruses and alphasatellites to the New World. Overall, the use of predacious insects as sampling tools can profoundly alter our views of natural plant virus diversity and biogeography by allowing the discovery of novel geminiviruses and associated satellite molecules without a priori knowledge of the types of viruses or insect vectors in a given area.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Virus Research, v. 171, issue 1, p. 231-237