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Development of a real-time qPCR assay for quantification of covert baculovirus infections in a major african crop pest

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>25/08/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Insects
Issue number3
Volume6
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)746-759
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Many pathogens and parasites are present in host individuals and populations without any obvious signs of disease. This is particularly true for baculoviruses infecting lepidopteran hosts, where studies have shown that covert persistent viral infections are almost ubiquitous in many species. To date, the infection intensity of covert viruses has rarely been quantified. In this study, we investigated the dynamics of a covert baculovirus infection within the lepidopteran crop pest Spodoptera exempta. A real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) procedure using a 5' nuclease hydrolysis (TaqMan) probe was developed for specific detection and quantification of Spodoptera exempta nucleopolyhedrovirus (SpexNPV). The qPCR assay indicated that covert baculovirus dynamics varied considerably over the course of the host life-cycle, with infection load peaking in early larval instars and being lowest in adults and final-instar larvae. Adult dissections indicated that, contrary to expectation, viral load aggregation was highest in the head, wings and legs, and lowest in the thorax and abdomen. The data presented here have broad implications relating to our understanding of transmission patterns of baculoviruses and the role of covert infections in host-pathogen dynamics.