RNA virome diversity and Wolbachia infection in individual Drosophila simulans flies

A. S. Ortiz-Baez, M. Shi, A. A. Hoffmann and E. C. Holmes,  Journal of General Virology,  102. 2021.

The endosymbiont bacteria of the genus Wolbachia are associated with multiple mutualistic effects on insect biology, including nutritional and antiviral properties. Members of the genus Wolbachia naturally occur in fly species of the genus Drosophila, providing an operational model host for studying how virome composition may be affected by its presence. Drosophila simulans populations can carry a variety of strains of members of the genus Wolbachia, with the wAu strain associated with strong antiviral protection under experimental conditions. We used D. simulans sampled from the Perth Hills, Western Australia, to investigate the potential virus protective effect of the wAu strain of Wolbachia on individual wild-caught flies. Our data revealed no appreciable variation in virus composition and abundance between individuals infected or uninfected with Wolbachia associated with the presence or absence of wAu. However, it remains unclear whether wAu might affect viral infection and host survival by increasing tolerance rather than inducing complete resistance. These data also provide new insights into the natural virome diversity of D. simulans. Despite the small number of individuals sampled, we identified a repertoire of RNA viruses, including nora virus, galbut virus, thika virus and La Jolla virus, that have been identified in other species of the genus Drosophila. Chaq virus-like sequences associated with galbut virus were also detected. In addition, we identified five novel viruses from the families Reoviridae, Tombusviridae, Mitoviridae and Bunyaviridae. Overall, this study highlights the complex interaction between Wolbachia and RNA virus infections and provides a baseline description of the natural virome of D. simulans.

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