Zombie Caterpillars Virus
October 31, 2011 by staff
Zombie Caterpillars Virus, The first solid proof of a genetic extended phenotype, a concept postulated by Richard Dawkins in 1982, has just been informed by Kelli Hoover and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania (PSU), University Park, and the Department of Agriculture U.S. Forest Service in Delaware, Ohio. These researchers have identified a viral gene that induces its host caterpillar to climb to the treetops, hang on the leaves or bark with their false legs, dying, blending, and millions of infectious viral particles rain to where they can infect other larvae. In contrast, healthy caterpillars off the tree during the day and hide in crevices in the bark or on the ground to avoid being eaten by birds.
“The baculovirus have been known to induce abnormal behavior of the climb, called” diseases of trees up “or” Wipfelkrankheit “in moths (Lymantria dispar) caterpillars of more than 100 years,” says Hoover, “but so far nobody knew what was achieved. ”
“The discovery of the genetic mechanisms behind the process, linking the changing behavior of a single locus in the viral genome is very clear,” says Garret Suen, University of Wisconsin at Madison, who did not participate in the study. “It’s a very important finding and contributes significantly to our understanding of how viruses can co-opt the host genetics to ensure their survival. What is surprising is that this change of behavior in the caterpillars can be induced by stopping the action a single pheromone signal, “he adds.
Knowing that fat caterpillars allow the virus to make infectious particles of the weak, and that the gypsy moth caterpillars rapidly from 12 to 24 hours while preparing for the move, Hoover and his colleagues reasoned that keep feeding larvae would be in the best interest of the baculovirus. Therefore, the scientists focused on a viral gene, called ‘ecdysteroid uridine 5′-diphosphate (UDP)-glucosyltransferase (EGT), which encodes an enzyme that inactivates the molting hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E). They tested this idea by inoculation of the same age L. disparwith six different versions of baculovirus, and place, along with mock-inoculated larvae in plastic bottles filled with high-scale screens.
The natural (wild type) virus laboratory caused the tree version of the disease over the larvae infected with baculovirus genes intact up to the top of the container and died. The viral egt gene deletion eliminated the abnormal behavior of climbing and re-insertion of the gene restored. “All the infected caterpillars had the same symptoms during the initial phase of infection, but only those inoculated with virus-containing EGT went to die, demonstrating that active EGT climbing behavior,” says Hoover.
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