Nine new RNA viruses associated with the fire ant Solenopsis invicta from its native range
The red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) escaped its natural enemies when it was introduced into North America in the 1930s from South America. US efforts have focused on discovery of natural enemies, like viruses, to provide sustainable control of the ant. Nine new virus genomes were sequenced from the invasive fire ant Solenopsis invicta using metagenomic RNA sequencing. The virus genomes were verified by Sanger sequencing and random amplification of cDNA ends reactions. In addition to the nine new virus genomes, the previously described Solenopsis viruses were also detected, including Solenopsis invicta virus 1 (SINV-1), SINV-2, SINV-3, SINV-4, SINV-5, and Solenopsis invicta densovirus. The virus sequences came from S. invicta workers, larvae, pupae, and dead workers taken from midden piles collected from across the ant’s native range in Formosa, Argentina. One of the new virus genomes (Solenopsis invicta virus 6) was also detected in populations of North American S. invicta. Phylogenetic analysis of the RNA dependent RNA polymerase, the entire nonstructural polyprotein, and genome characteristics were used to tentatively taxonomically place these new virus genome sequences; these include four new species of Dicistroviridae, one Polycipiviridae, one Iflaviridae, one Totiviridae, and two genome sequences that were too taxonomically divergent to be placed with certainty. The S. invicta virome is the best characterized from any ant species and includes 13 positive-sense, single-stranded RNA viruses (Solenopsis invicta virus 1 to Solenopsis invicta virus 13), one double-stranded RNA virus (Solenopsis midden virus), and one double-stranded DNA virus (Solenopsis invicta densovirus). These new additions to the S. invicta virome offer potentially new classical biological control agents for S. invicta.
KeywordsFire ant Solenopsis invicta Virome RNA virus Metagenomics
The use of trade, firm, and corporation names in this publication are for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the United States Department of Agriculture or the Agricultural Research Service of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. We thank S.D. Porter, M. Guala, and L. Calcattera for ant collections. Ant collections were carried out under collecting permits issued by Subsecretaria de Recursos Naturales, Ordenamiento y Calidad Ambiental of the province of Formosa (Nota No. 108/13). Export permits were issued by the Secretaría de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sustentable (No. 24767) and the Servicio Nacional de Sanidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria (Nota DNPV No 747) of Argentina.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
Steven Valles and Adam Rivers declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
The research reported here did not involve any studies on human or vertebrate subjects.
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