Episode Summary

A virus partners with a parasitoid wasp to help exploit fruit fly victims!

Microbe of the episode:

Actinomadura livida

Jesse's takeaways

Parasitoid wasps have an interesting lifestyle: they inject their eggs into the larvae of other insects, and their young hatch and grow up by consuming the host from the inside. Some of these wasps also inject a virus along with the egg, which supports the wasp offspring by suppressing the host immune system.

Most of these parasitoid helper viruses are integrated into the host wasp genome and are translated and produced as needed, but in this study, an independently replicating entomopoxvirus serves as an example of a virus-wasp mutualism. The study explores how the virus can infect the wasp prey, and how it gets passed on to wasp offspring.

Journal Paper

Coffman KA, Hankinson QM, Burke GR. 2022. A viral mutualist employs posthatch transmission for vertical and horizontal spread among parasitoid wasps. Proc Natl Acad Sci 119:e2120048119.

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Caterpillar with parasitoid coccoons By Jesse Noar