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Publications in peer reviewed journals

1 Publication found
  • Antiviral immune response reveals host-specific virus infections in natural ant populations.

    Viljakainen L, Fürst MA, Grasse AV, Jurvansuu J, Oh J, Tolonen L, Eder T, Rattei T, Cremer S
    2023 - Front Microbiol, 1119002


    Hosts can carry many viruses in their bodies, but not all of them cause disease. We studied ants as a social host to determine both their overall viral repertoire and the subset of actively infecting viruses across natural populations of three subfamilies: the Argentine ant (, Dolichoderinae), the invasive garden ant (, Formicinae) and the red ant (, Myrmicinae). We used a dual sequencing strategy to reconstruct complete virus genomes by RNA-seq and to simultaneously determine the small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) by small RNA sequencing (sRNA-seq), which constitute the host antiviral RNAi immune response. This approach led to the discovery of 41 novel viruses in ants and revealed a host ant-specific RNAi response (21 vs. 22 nt siRNAs) in the different ant species. The efficiency of the RNAi response (sRNA/RNA read count ratio) depended on the virus and the respective ant species, but not its population. Overall, we found the highest virus abundance and diversity per population in , followed by and . Argentine ants also shared a high proportion of viruses between populations, whilst overlap was nearly absent in . Only one of the 59 viruses was found to infect two of the ant species as hosts, revealing high host-specificity in active infections. In contrast, six viruses actively infected one ant species, but were found as contaminants only in the others. Disentangling spillover of disease-causing infection from non-infecting contamination across species is providing relevant information for disease ecology and ecosystem management.

Book chapters and other publications

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