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  1. Abstract

    The parasitoid wasp Venturia canescens is an important biological control agent of stored products moth pests and serves as a model to study the function and evolution of domesticated endogenous viruses (DEVs). The DEVs discovered in V. canescens are known as virus-like particles (VcVLPs), which are produced using nudivirus-derived components and incorporate wasp-derived virulence proteins instead of packaged nucleic acids. Previous studies of virus-derived components in the V. canescens genome identified 53 nudivirus-like genes organized in six gene clusters and several viral pseudogenes, but how VcVLP genes are organized among wasp chromosomes following their integration in the ancestral wasp genome is largely unknown. Here, we present a chromosomal scale genome of V. canescens consisting of 11 chromosomes and 56 unplaced small scaffolds. The genome size is 290.8 Mbp with a N50 scaffold size of 24.99 Mbp. A high-quality gene set including 11,831 protein-coding genes were produced using RNA-Seq data as well as publicly available peptide sequences from related Hymenoptera. A manual annotation of genes of viral origin produced 61 intact and 19 pseudogenized nudivirus-derived genes. The genome assembly revealed that two previously identified clusters were joined into a single cluster and a total of 5 gene clusters comprising of 60 intact nudivirus-derived genes were located in three chromosomes. In contrast, pseudogenes are dispersed among 8 chromosomes with only 4 pseudogenes associated with nudivirus gene clusters. The architecture of genes encoding VcVLP components suggests it originates from a recent virus acquisition and there is a link between the processes of dispersal and pseudogenization. This high-quality genome assembly and annotation represents the first chromosome-scale assembly for parasitoid wasps associated with VLPs, and is publicly available in the National Center for Biotechnology Information Genome and RefSeq databases, providing a valuable resource for future studies of DEVs in parasitoid wasps.

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  2. Heritable symbionts display a wide variety of transmission strategies to travel from one insect generation to the next. Parasitoid wasps, one of the most diverse insect groups, maintain several heritable associations with viruses that are beneficial for wasp survival during their development as parasites of other insects. Most of these beneficial viral entities are strictly transmitted through the wasp germline as endogenous viral elements within wasp genomes. However, a beneficial poxvirus inherited by Diachasmimorpha longicaudata wasps, known as Diachasmimorpha longicaudata entomopoxvirus (DlEPV), is not integrated into the wasp genome and therefore may employ different tactics to infect future wasp generations. Here, we demonstrated that transmission of DlEPV is primarily dependent on parasitoid wasps, since viral transmission within fruit fly hosts of the wasps was limited to injection of the virus directly into the larval fly body cavity. Additionally, we uncovered a previously undocumented form of posthatch transmission for a mutualistic virus that entails external acquisition and localization of the virus within the adult wasp venom gland. We showed that this route is extremely effective for vertical and horizontal transmission of the virus within D. longicaudata wasps. Furthermore, the beneficial phenotype provided by DlEPV during parasitism was also transmitted with perfect efficiency, indicating an effective mode of symbiont spread to the advantage of infected wasps. These results provide insight into the transmission of beneficial viruses among insects and indicate that viruses can share features with cellular microbes during their evolutionary transitions into symbionts. 
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  3. Parrish, Colin R. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Bracoviruses (BVs) are endogenized nudiviruses in parasitoid wasps of the microgastroid complex (family Braconidae). Microgastroid wasps have coopted nudivirus genes to produce replication-defective virions that females use to transfer virulence genes to parasitized hosts. The microgastroid complex further consists of six subfamilies and ∼50,000 species but current understanding of BV gene inventories and organization primarily derives from analysis of two wasp species in the subfamily Microgastrinae ( Microplitis demolitor and Cotesia congregata ) that produce M. demolitor BV (MdBV) and C. congregata BV (CcBV). Notably, several genomic features of MdBV and CcBV remain conserved since divergence of M. demolitor and C. congregata ∼53 million years ago (MYA). However, it is unknown whether these conserved traits more broadly reflect BV evolution, because no complete genomes exist for any microgastroid wasps outside the Microgastrinae. In this regard, the subfamily Cheloninae is of greatest interest because it diverged earliest from the Microgastrinae (∼85 MYA) after endogenization of the nudivirus ancestor. Here, we present the complete genome of Chelonus insularis , which is an egg-larval parasitoid in the Cheloninae that produces C. insularis BV (CinsBV). We report that the inventory of nudivirus genes in C. insularis is conserved but are dissimilarly organized compared to M. demolitor and C. congregata . Reciprocally, CinsBV proviral segments share organizational features with MdBV and CcBV but virulence gene inventories exhibit almost no overlap. Altogether, our results point to the functional importance of a conserved inventory of nudivirus genes and a dynamic set of virulence genes for the successful parasitism of hosts. Our results also suggest organizational features previously identified in MdBV and CcBV are likely not essential for BV virion formation. IMPORTANCE Bracoviruses are a remarkable example of virus endogenization, because large sets of genes from a nudivirus ancestor continue to produce virions that thousands of wasp species rely upon to parasitize hosts. Understanding how these genes interact and have been coopted by wasps for novel functions is of broad interest in the study of virus evolution. This work characterizes bracovirus genome components in the parasitoid wasp Chelonus insularis , which together with existing wasp genomes captures a large portion of the diversity among wasp species that produce bracoviruses. Results provide new information about how bracovirus genome components are organized in different wasps while also providing additional insights on key features required for function. 
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  4. Wayne, Marta (Ed.)
    Abstract The Ichneumonoidea (Ichneumonidae and Braconidae) is an incredibly diverse superfamily of parasitoid wasps that includes species that produce virus-like entities in their reproductive tracts to promote successful parasitism of host insects. Research on these entities has traditionally focused upon two viral genera Bracovirus (in Braconidae) and Ichnovirus (in Ichneumonidae). These viruses are produced using genes known collectively as endogenous viral elements (EVEs) that represent historical, now heritable viral integration events in wasp genomes. Here, new genome sequence assemblies for 11 species and 6 publicly available genomes from the Ichneumonoidea were screened with the goal of identifying novel EVEs and characterizing the breadth of species in lineages with known EVEs. Exhaustive similarity searches combined with the identification of ancient core genes revealed sequences from both known and novel EVEs. One species harbored a novel, independently derived EVE related to a divergent large double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) virus that manipulates behavior in other hymenopteran species. Although bracovirus or ichnovirus EVEs were identified as expected in three species, the absence of ichnoviruses in several species suggests that they are independently derived and present in two younger, less widespread lineages than previously thought. Overall, this study presents a novel bioinformatic approach for EVE discovery in genomes and shows that three divergent virus families (nudiviruses, the ancestors of ichnoviruses, and Leptopilina boulardi Filamentous Virus-like viruses) are recurrently acquired as EVEs in parasitoid wasps. Virus acquisition in the parasitoid wasps is a common process that has occurred in many more than two lineages from a diverse range of arthropod-infecting dsDNA viruses. 
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  5. Roossinck, Marilyn J. (Ed.)
    Insects are known to host a wide variety of beneficial microbes that are fundamental to many aspects of their biology and have substantially shaped their evolution. Notably, parasitoid wasps have repeatedly evolved beneficial associations with viruses that enable developing wasps to survive as parasites that feed from other insects. Ongoing genomic sequencing efforts have revealed that most of these virus-derived entities are fully integrated into the genomes of parasitoid wasp lineages, representing endogenous viral elements (EVEs) that retain the ability to produce virus or virus-like particles within wasp reproductive tissues. All documented parasitoid EVEs have undergone similar genomic rearrangements compared to their viral ancestors characterized by viral genes scattered across wasp genomes and specific viral gene losses. The recurrent presence of viral endogenization and genomic reorganization in beneficial virus systems identified to date suggest that these features are crucial to forming heritable alliances between parasitoid wasps and viruses. Here, our genomic characterization of a mutualistic poxvirus associated with the wasp Diachasmimorpha longicaudata , known as Diachasmimorpha longicaudata entomopoxvirus (DlEPV), has uncovered the first instance of beneficial virus evolution that does not conform to the genomic architecture shared by parasitoid EVEs with which it displays evolutionary convergence. Rather, DlEPV retains the exogenous viral genome of its poxvirus ancestor and the majority of conserved poxvirus core genes. Additional comparative analyses indicate that DlEPV is related to a fly pathogen and contains a novel gene expansion that may be adaptive to its symbiotic role. Finally, differential expression analysis during virus replication in wasps and fly hosts demonstrates a unique mechanism of functional partitioning that allows DlEPV to persist within and provide benefit to its parasitoid wasp host. 
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  6. Abstract

    Many plant-sap-feeding insects have maintained a single, obligate, nutritional symbiont over the long history of their lineage. This senior symbiont may be joined by one or more junior symbionts that compensate for gaps in function incurred through genome-degradative forces. Adelgids are sap-sucking insects that feed solely on conifer trees and follow complex life cycles in which the diet fluctuates in nutrient levels. Adelgids are unusual in that both senior and junior symbionts appear to have been replaced repeatedly over their evolutionary history. Genomes can provide clues to understanding symbiont replacements, but only the dual symbionts of hemlock adelgids have been examined thus far. Here, we sequence and compare genomes of four additional dual-symbiont pairs in adelgids. We show that these symbionts are nutritional partners originating from diverse bacterial lineages and exhibiting wide variation in general genome characteristics. Although dual symbionts cooperate to produce nutrients, the balance of contributions varies widely across pairs, and total genome contents reflect a range of ages and degrees of degradation. Most symbionts appear to be in transitional states of genome reduction. Our findings support a hypothesis of periodic symbiont turnover driven by fluctuating selection for nutritional provisioning related to gains and losses of complex life cycles in their hosts.

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  7. ABSTRACT For insects known as parasitoid wasps, successful development as a parasite results in the death of the host insect. As a result of this lethal interaction, wasps and their hosts have coevolved strategies to gain an advantage in this evolutionary arms race. Although normally considered to be strict pathogens, some viruses have established persistent infections within parasitoid wasp lineages and are beneficial to wasps during parasitism. Heritable associations between viruses and parasitoid wasps have evolved independently multiple times, but most of these systems remain largely understudied with respect to viral origin, transmission and replication strategies of the virus, and interactions between the virus and host insects. Here, we report a detailed characterization of Diachasmimorpha longicaudata entomopoxvirus (DlEPV), a poxvirus found within the venom gland of Diachasmimorpha longicaudata wasps. Our results show that DlEPV exhibits similar but distinct transmission and replication dynamics compared to those of other parasitoid viral elements, including vertical transmission of the virus within wasps, as well as virus replication in both female wasps and fruit fly hosts. Functional assays demonstrate that DlEPV is highly virulent within fly hosts, and wasps without DlEPV have severely reduced parasitism success compared to those with a typical viral load. Taken together, the data presented in this study illustrate a novel case of beneficial virus evolution, in which a virus of unique origin has undergone convergent evolution with other viral elements associated with parasitoid wasps to provide an analogous function throughout parasitism. IMPORTANCE Viruses are generally considered to be disease-causing agents, but several instances of beneficial viral elements have been identified in insects called parasitoid wasps. These virus-derived entities are passed on through wasp generations and enhance the success of the wasps’ parasitic life cycle. Many parasitoid-virus partnerships studied to date exhibit common features among independent cases of this phenomenon, including a mother-to-offspring route of virus transmission, a restricted time and location for virus replication, and a positive effect of virus activity on wasp survival. Our characterization of Diachasmimorpha longicaudata entomopoxvirus (DlEPV), a poxvirus found in Diachasmimorpha longicaudata parasitoid wasps, represents a novel example of beneficial virus evolution. Here, we show that DlEPV exhibits functional similarities to known parasitoid viral elements that support its comparable role during parasitism. Our results also demonstrate unique differences that suggest DlEPV is more autonomous than other long-term viral associations described in parasitoid wasps. 
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