The adaptation of pathogens to either their hosts or to environmental conditions is the focus of many current ecological studies. In this work we compared the ability of six spatially-distant Lymantria dispar (gypsy moth) multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus (LdMNPV) strains (three from eastern North America and three from central Asia) to induce acute infection in gypsy moth larvae. We also sequenced the complete genome of one Asian (LdMNPV-27/0) and one North American (LdMNPV-45/0) strain which were used for bioassay. We found that all of the North American virus strains, with the exception of one, demonstrated higher potency than the Asian virus strains, either in North American (Lymantria dispar) larvae or, in Asian (Lymantria dispar asiatica) larvae. Complete genome sequencing revealed two gene deletions in the LdMNPV-27/0 strain: the virus enhancin factor gene (vef-1) and the baculovirus repeated orf gene (bro-p). These deletions were not seen in the LdMNPV-45/0 strain nor in other American strains available in archiving systems. We also found deletions of the bro-e and bro-o genes in LdMNPV-45/0 strain but not in the LdMNPV-27/0 strain. The phylogenetic inference with an alignment of the 37 core gene nucleotide sequences revealed the close relationship of the LdMNPV-45/0 strain with other American strains accessed in GenBank (Ab-a624 and 5-6) while the LdMNPV-27/0 strain was clustered together with the LdMNPV-3054 strain (isolated in Spain) instead of predicted clustering with LdMNPV- 3029 (isolated in Asia). Our study demonstrated that first, different LdMNPV isolates from the same metapopulations of L. dispar exhibit little or no difference in the degree of virulence towards host larvae and second, that locality of host population is not an important driver of LdMNPV virulence. Virulence of LdMNPV is determined only by viral genetics. The genetic differences between North American and Central Asian virus strains are discussed.
Martemyanov, V. V., Podgwaite, J. D., Belousova, I. A., Pavlushin, S. V., Slavicek, J. M., Baturina, O. A., … Ilyinykh, A. V. (2017). A comparison of the adaptations of strains of Lymantria dispar multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus to hosts from spatially isolated populations. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 146, 41–46. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jip.2017.04.004