University of Oulu

Viljakainen, L., Holmberg, I., Abril, S., Jurvansuu, J. (2018) Viruses of invasive Argentine ants from the European Main supercolony: characterization, interactions and evolution. Journal of General Virology, 99 (8), 1129-1140. doi:10.1099/jgv.0.001104

Viruses of the invasive Argentine ants from the European Main supercolony : characterisation, interactions, and evolution

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Author: Viljakainen, Lumi1; Holmberg, Ida1; Abril, Sìlvia2;
Organizations: 1Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Finland
2Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Girona, Spain
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Microbiology Society, 2018
Publish Date: 2019-04-01


The Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) is a highly invasive pest, yet very little is known about its viruses. We analysed individual RNA-sequencing data from 48 Argentine ant queens to identify and characterisze their viruses. We discovered eight complete RNA virus genomes — all from different virus families — and one putative partial entomopoxvirus genome. Seven of the nine virus sequences were found from ant samples spanning 7 years, suggesting that these viruses may cause long-term infections within the super-colony. Although all nine viruses successfully infect Argentine ants, they have very different characteristics, such as genome organization, prevalence, loads, activation frequencies and rates of evolution. The eight RNA viruses constituted in total 23 different virus combinations which, based on statistical analysis, were non-random, suggesting that virus compatibility is a factor in infections. We also searched for virus sequences from New Zealand and Californian Argentine ant RNA-sequencing data and discovered that many of the viruses are found on different continents, yet some viruses are prevalent only in certain colonies. The viral loads described here most probably present a normal asymptomatic level of infection; nevertheless, detailed knowledge of Argentine ant viruses may enable the design of viral biocontrol methods against this pest.

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Series: Journal of general virology
ISSN: 0022-1317
ISSN-E: 1465-2099
ISSN-L: 0022-1317
Volume: 99
Pages: 1129 - 1140
DOI: 10.1099/jgv.0.001104
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1183 Plant biology, microbiology, virology
1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This research was funded by Academy of Finland grant no. 260147 to L. V. and the Kone Foundation to J. J. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Copyright information: © 2018 The Authors | Published by the Microbiology Society.