Fate of polydnavirus DNA of the egg-larval parasitoid Chelonus inanitus in the host Spodoptera littoralis

In situ hybridizations show that 5 min after parasitization, polydnavirus DNA is in close vicinity of the parasitoid egg, but 5 h later also in the yolk and partially in the host embryo. Fifteen hours after parasitization, the viral DNA is seen all over the host embryo and hardly in the yolk. The tissue distribution of the viral DNA was analysed and quantified by dot blots in the fifth instar parasitized larvae. On a per host basis, haemocytes and fat body contained the highest amount of viral DNA, while nervous tissue, intestinal tract and carcass contained less. Of the three viral segments tested, all were found in all tissues. Relative to the quantity of host DNA, viral DNA was most abundant in haemocytes, about five times less abundant in fat body and nervous tissue and about 25 times less abundant in intestinal tract. The total quantity of viral DNA per host was 444+/-145 pg which is similar to the quantity injected by the wasp; thus, the viral DNA persists throughout parasitization. The parasitoid larva contains 820+/-80 pg viral DNA integrated in the genome. This illustrates that the dose of viral DNA injected in virions represents approximately one third of the total viral genomic information present in a host at a late stage of parasitism.

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