Environmental Influences on the Relative Stability of Baculoviruses and Vaccinia Virus: A Review

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Abstract

The environmental fate of viruses is a topic of recent interest because the transport and fate of viruses in the environment may impact human and animal health. In studying the transport of pathogenic viruses in the environment some workers have used non-pathogenic surrogate or “simulant” viruses as tracer organisms for safety reasons. In an effort to identify simulants for orthopoxviruses, the use of baculoviruses has been proposed. Like poxviruses, they are also large, ds-DNA viruses. Unlike poxviruses, however, they are generally regarded as harmless to plants and animals outside their narrow insect host range and have been broadly disseminated for decades in organic agriculture as natural insecticides. The use of baculoviruses as simulants for the development of decontaminants requires an understanding of the relative resistance of both poxviruses and baculoviruses to environmental stressors, so that their relative, inherent rates of environmental degradation can be accounted for in determining whether a candidate decontamination regime is effective. To this end, we review here what is known about the susceptibility of baculoviruses and poxviruses to environmental stressors (temperature, UV light, moisture and pH) and the influence of their physical environments (soil, phyllosphere, or aquatic surroundings).