Phylogenetic Position and Replication Kinetics of Heliothis virescens Ascovirus 3h (HvAV-3h) Isolated from Spodoptera exigua
A new member of the family Ascoviridae, Diadromus pulchellus ascovirus (DpAV), has been found in the lepidopteran nymphs of Acrolepiopsis assectella parasitized by the hymenopteran wasp Diadromus pulchellus. Virions have the standard features of the ascovirus group; each particle is about 220 nm long and 150 nm wide. They are multilayered, with two clear 7-nm-thick outer layers and one 15-nm-thick inner layer surrounding an electron-dense core (155 x 110 nm). However, the flattened rice-grain shape and fragility of the DpAV particles are unlike that of known ascoviruses infecting Noctuidae species. They form large vesicles containing virions in infected cells. The DpAV genome is about 116 kb long and has a circular and relaxed structure. It contains 6-8 repeated and interspersed sequences of 494 bp. The structural and genomic features of DpAV suggest that this virus belongs to an ascovirus sub-family different from that containing the ascoviruses previously found to infect species of Noctuidae (Federici et al., 1991).