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Lou FCD



Posts: 5419
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 12 2009,19:43   

Ancient Virus Gave Wasps Their Sting

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By Rachel Zelkowitz

ScienceNOW Daily News

12 February 2009

There's no consent for these surrogate parents. Tens of thousands of wasp species lay their eggs inside caterpillars, injecting toxins that paralyze the hosts and allow their young to feast on the innards with impunity. Researchers have long wondered what exactly these toxins are and where they came from. The answers, a new genetic analysis reveals, have to do with a virus that infected wasps millions of years ago.


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So in the new study, Drezen's team looked at DNA from wasp ovaries, in which the polydnaviruses are made. They analyzed DNA from three different wasp species and checked the sequences against those of known insect viruses. In one group of wasps, 22 genes matched those of an ancient family of viruses called nudiviruses, the researchers report tomorrow in Science. Further experiments showed that these genes code for key structural proteins in the wasps' polydnavirus toxins.


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