Project description:Naturally occurring covert infections in lepidopteran populations can involve multiple viruses with potentially different transmission strategies. In this study, we characterized covert infection by two RNA viruses, Spodoptera exigua iflavirus 1 (SeIV-1) and Spodoptera exigua iflavirus 2 (SeIV-2) (family Iflaviridae) that naturally infect populations of Spodoptera exigua, and examined their influence on susceptibility to patent disease by the nucleopolyhedrovirus Spodoptera exigua multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus (SeMNPV) (family Baculoviridae). The abundance of SeIV-1 genomes increased up to ten-thousand-fold across insect developmental stages after surface contamination of host eggs with a mixture of SeIV-1 and SeIV-2 particles, whereas the abundance of SeIV-2 remained constant across all developmental stages. Low levels of SeIV-2 infection were detected in all groups of insects, including those that hatched from surface-decontaminated egg masses. SeIV-1 infection resulted in reduced larval weight gain, and an unbalanced sex ratio, whereas larval developmental time, pupal weight, and adult emergence and fecundity were not significantly affected in infected adults. The inoculation of S. exigua egg masses with iflavirus, followed by a subsequent infection with SeMNPV, resulted in an additive effect on larval mortality. The 50% lethal concentration (LC50) of SeMNPV was reduced nearly 4-fold and the mean time to death was faster by 12 h in iflavirus-treated insects. These results suggest that inapparent iflavirus infections may be able to modulate the host response to a new pathogen, a finding that has particular relevance to the use of SeMNPV as the basis for biological pest control products.
Project description:The binding and pore formation properties of four Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1 toxins were analyzed by using brush border membrane vesicles from Spodoptera exigua and Spodoptera frugiperda, and the results were compared to the results of toxicity bioassays. Cry1Fa was highly toxic and Cry1Ac was nontoxic to S. exigua and S. frugiperda larvae, while Cry1Ca was highly toxic to S. exigua and weakly toxic to S. frugiperda. In contrast, Cry1Bb was active against S. frugiperda but only marginally active against S. exigua. Bioassays performed with iodinated Cry1Bb, Cry1Fa, and Cry1Ca showed that the effects of iodination on toxin activity were different. The toxicities of I-labeled Cry1Bb and Cry1Fa against Spodoptera species were significantly less than the toxicities of the unlabeled toxins, while Cry1Ca retained its insecticidal activity when it was labeled with 125I. Binding assays showed that iodination prevented Cry1Fa from binding to Spodoptera brush border membrane vesicles. 125I-labeled Cry1Ac, Cry1Bb, and Cry1Ca bound with high-affinities to brush border membrane vesicles from S. exigua and S. frugiperda. Competition binding experiments performed with heterologous toxins revealed two major binding sites. Cry1Ac and Cry1Fa have a common binding site, and Cry1Bb, Cry1C, and Cry1Fa have a second common binding site. No obvious relationship between dissociation of bound toxins from brush border membrane vesicles and toxicity was detected. Cry1 toxins were also tested for the ability to alter the permeability of membrane vesicles, as measured by a light scattering assay. Cry1 proteins toxic to Spodoptera larvae permeabilized brush border membrane vesicles, but the extent of permeabilization did not necessarily correlate with in vivo toxicity.
Project description:The gut microbiota plays essential roles in processes related with metabolism, physiology, and immunity in all organisms, including insects. In the present work, we performed a broad analysis of the Spodoptera exigua gut microbiota, a major agricultural pest. We analyzed the influence of multiple parameters such as diet, geographic location, sex, or viral infections on S. exigua caterpillar gut microbiota composition. Our study revealed a high variability in bacterial composition among individuals, and a major influence of environmental bacteria (including those acquired through diet) on the gut microbiota composition, supporting previous studies that claim resident microbiota are lacking in caterpillars. Previous studies with laboratory-reared insects showed that changes in caterpillar gut bacterial composition affect the insecticidal properties of entomopathogenic viruses and bacteria. Our study revealed different microbiota composition in field insects carrying a natural viral infection with Spodoptera exigua nucleopolyhedrovirus (SeMNPV) and/or Spodoptera exigua iflavirus 1 (SeIV1). Few taxa can be specifically associated with the infection, suggesting microbiota influence the infective process of these natural pathogens, and providing new strategies for insect pest management.
Project description:Heliothis virescens ascovirus 3?h (HvAV-3h), a dsDNA insect virus, belonging to the family Ascoviridae, can infect caterpillars of several Noctuidae species by ovipositing parasitoid wasps. In order to provide a comprehensive overview of the interactive responses of host larvae after infection by the ascovirus, a transcriptome analysis of Spodoptera exigua to HvAV-3h was conducted from 6 to 168?hours post infection (hpi). Approximately 101.64?Gb of RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) data obtained from infected and uninfected S. exigua larvae were used to perform a de novo transcriptome assembly, which generated approximately 62,258?S. exigua unigenes. Using differential gene expression analysis, it was determined that the majority of host transcripts were down-regulated beginning at 6?hpi and continuing throughout the infection period, although there was an increase in up-regulated unigene number during the 12 to 72?hpi stage. It is noteworthy that the most abundantly enriched pathways in KEGG annotation were Metabolism terms, indicating that the host larval metabolic mechanisms were highly influenced post HvAV-3h infection. In addition, the host cuticle protein encoding unigenes were highly down-regulated in most of the situations, suggesting that the host larval cuticle synthesis were inhibited by the viral infection.
Project description:Insect-specific ascoviruses with a circular genome are distributed in the USA, France, Australia and Indonesia. Here, we report the first ascovirus isolation from Spodoptera exigua in Hunan, China. DNA-DNA hybridization to published ascoviruses demonstrated that the new China ascovirus isolate is a variant of Heliothis virescens ascovirus 3a (HvAV-3a), thus named HvAV-3h. We investigated the phylogenetic position, cell infection, vesicle production and viral DNA replication kinetics of HvAV-3h, as well as its host-ranges. The major capsid protein (MCP) gene and the delta DNA polymerase (DNA po1) gene of HvAV-3h were sequenced and compared with the available ascovirus isolates for phylogenetic analysis. This shows a close relationship with HvAV-3g, originally isolated from Indonesia, HvAV-3e from Australia and HvAV-3c from United States. HvAV-3h infection induced vesicle production in the SeE1 cells derived from S. exigua and Sf9 cells derived from S. frugiperda, resulting in more vesicles generated in Sf9 than SeE1. Viral DNA replication kinetics of HvAV-3h also demonstrated a difference between the two cell lines tested. HvAV-3h could readily infect three important insect pests Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner), Spodoptera exigua (Hübner) and Spodoptera litura (Fabricius) from two genera in different subfamilies with high mortalities.
Project description:The bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis produces Crystal (Cry) proteins that are toxic to a diverse range of insects. Transgenic crops that produce Bt Cry proteins are grown worldwide because of their improved resistance to insect pests. Although Bt "pyramid" cotton that produces both Cry1A and Cry2A is predicted to be more resistant to several lepidopteran pests, including Spodoptera exigua, than plants that produce Cry1Ac alone, the mechanisms responsible for the toxicity of Cry2Aa in S. exigua are not well understood. We identified several proteins that bind Cry2Aa (polycalin, V-ATPase subunits A and B, actin, 4-hydroxybutyrate CoA-transferase [4-HB-CoAT]), and a receptor for activated protein kinase C (Rack), in S. exigua. Recombinant, expressed versions of these proteins were able to bind the Cry2Aa toxin in vitro assays. RNA interference gene knockdown of the Se-V-ATPase subunit B significantly decreased the susceptibility of S. exigua larvae to Cry2Aa, whereas knockdown of the other putative binding proteins did not. Moreover, an in vitro homologous competition assay demonstrated that the Se-V-ATPase subunit B binds specifically to the Cry2Aa toxin, suggesting that this protein acts as a functional receptor of Cry2Aa in S. exigua. This the first Cry2Aa toxin receptor identified in S. exigua brush-border membrane vesicles.
Project description:Shortly prior to death, many species of Lepidoptera infected with nucleopolyhedrovirus climb upwards on the host plant. This results in improved dissemination of viral occlusion bodies over plant foliage and an increased probability of transmission to healthy conspecific larvae. Following applications of Spodoptera exigua multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus for control of Spodoptera exigua on greenhouse-grown sweet pepper crops, necrophagy was observed by healthy S. exigua larvae that fed on virus-killed conspecifics. We examined whether this risky behavior was induced by olfactory or phagostimulant compounds associated with infected cadavers. Laboratory choice tests and olfactometer studies, involving infected and non-infected cadavers placed on spinach leaf discs, revealed no evidence for greater attraction of healthy larvae to virus-killed over non-infected cadavers. Physical contact or feeding on infected cadavers resulted in a very high incidence of transmission (82-93% lethal disease). Observations on the behavior of S. exigua larvae on pepper plants revealed that infected insects died on the uppermost 10% of foliage and closer to the plant stem than healthy conspecifics of the same stage, which we considered clear evidence of baculovirus-induced climbing behavior. Healthy larvae that subsequently foraged on the plant were more frequently observed closer to the infected than the non-infected cadaver. Healthy larvae also encountered and fed on infected cadavers significantly more frequently and more rapidly than larvae that fed on non-infected cadavers. Intraspecific necrophagy on infected cadavers invariably resulted in virus transmission and death of the necrophagous insect. We conclude that, in addition to improving the dissemination of virus particles over plant foliage, baculovirus-induced climbing behavior increases the incidence of intraspecific necrophagy in S. exigua, which is the most efficient mechanism of transmission of this lethal pathogen.
Project description:Understanding how insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) interact with their hosts is crucial to fully explain the molecular bases of Bt specificity and insecticidal activity. Previous studies support ATP binding cassette transporters (ABCC2/3) and one cadherin-like protein are Cry1Ac functional receptors in the beet armyworm (Spodoptera exigua). In this study, a combined one-dimensional gel electrophoresis and immunoblotting approach identified aminopeptidase N (APNs) as putative Cry1Ac binding proteins in the midgut brush border membrane of S. exigua larvae. Functional analyses by gene silencing of six different S. exigua APN genes (SeAPN1, SeAPN2, SeAPN3, SeAPN4, SeAPN5 and SeAPN6) showed that only suppression of SeAPN1 resulted in decreased larval susceptibility to Cry1Ac toxin. These results support that SeAPN1 plays important functional role in Cry1Ac toxicity in S. exigua.
Project description:Camptothecin (CPT), a natural alkaloid isolated from Camptotheca acuminata Decne, is found to show potential insecticidal activities with unique action mechanisms by targeting at DNA-topoisomease I (Top1) complex and inducing cell apoptosis. To improve the efficacy against insect pests, two camptothecin (CPT) derivatives were synthesized through introducing two functional groups, 2-nitroaminoimidazoline and 1-chloro-2-isocyanatoethane by esterification reaction. The insecticidal activities of these two derivatives were evaluated at contact toxicity, cytotoxicity and topoisomerase I (Top1) inhibitory activities comparing with CPT and hydroxyl-camptothecin (HCPT). Results showed that compound a, synthesized by introducing 2-nitroaminoimidazoline to CPT, apparently increased contact toxicity to the third larvae of beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigua, and cytotoxicity to IOZCAS-Spex-II cells isolated from S. exigua. However, the inhibition on DNA relaxation activity of Top1 was reduced to less than 5 percentage even at high concentrations (50 and 100??M). For introducing 1-chloro-2-isocyanatoethane to HCPT, the contact toxicity, cytotoxicity and Top1 inhibitory activity of synthesized compound b were increased significantly compared to CPT and HCPT. These results suggested that both synthesized compounds possessed high efficacy against S. exigua by targeting at Top1 (compound b) or novel mechanism of action (compound a).
Project description:Prostaglandins (PGs) mediate insect immune responses to infections and invasions. Although the presence of PGs has been confirmed in several insect species, their biosynthesis in insects remains a conundrum because orthologs of the mammalian cyclooxygenases (COXs) have not been found in the known insect genomes. PG-mediated immune reactions have been documented in the beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigua. The purpose of this research is to identify the source of PGs in S. exigua.Peroxidases (POXs) are a sister group of COX genes. Ten putative POXs (SePOX-A ? SePOX-J) were expressed in S. exigua. Expressions of SePOX-F and -H were induced by bacterial challenge and expressed in the hemocytes and the fat body. RNAi of each POX was performed by hemocoelic injection of their specific double-stranded RNAs. dsPOX-F or, separately, dsPOX-H, but not the other eight dsRNA constructs, specifically suppressed hemocyte-spreading behavior and nodule formation; these two reactions were also inhibited by aspirin, a COX inhibitor. PGE2, but not arachidonic acid, treatment rescued the immunosuppression. Sequence analysis indicated that both POX genes were clustered with peroxinectin (Pxt) and their cognate proteins shared some conserved domains corresponding to the Pxt of Drosophila melanogaster.SePOX-F and -H are Pxt-like genes associated with PG biosynthesis in S. exigua.