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The End of a 60-year Riddle: Identification and Genomic Characterization of an Iridovirus, the Causative Agent of White Fat Cell Disease in Zooplankton

Toenshoff, Elena R. and Fields, Peter D. and Bourgeois, Yann X. and Ebert, Dieter. (2018) The End of a 60-year Riddle: Identification and Genomic Characterization of an Iridovirus, the Causative Agent of White Fat Cell Disease in Zooplankton. G3-Genes Genomes Genetics, 8 (4). pp. 1259-1272.

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Abstract

The planktonic freshwater crustacean of the genus Daphnia are a model system for biomedical research and, in particular, invertebrate-parasite interactions. Up until now, no virus has been characterized for this system. Here we report the discovery of an iridovirus as the causative agent of White Fat Cell Disease (WFCD) in Daphnia. WFCD is a highly virulent disease of Daphnia that can easily be cultured under laboratory conditions. Although it has been studied from sites across Eurasia for more than 60 years, its causative agent had not been described, nor had an iridovirus been connected to WFCD before now. Here we find that an iridovirusthe Daphnia iridescent virus 1 (DIV-1)is the causative agent of WFCD. DIV-1 has a genome sequence of about 288 kbp, with 39% G+C content and encodes 367 predicted open reading frames. DIV-1 clusters together with other invertebrate iridoviruses but has by far the largest genome among all sequenced iridoviruses. Comparative genomics reveal that DIV-1 has apparently recently lost a substantial number of unique genes but has also gained genes by horizontal gene transfer from its crustacean host. DIV-1 represents the first invertebrate iridovirus that encodes proteins to purportedly cap RNA, and it contains unique genes for a DnaJ-like protein, a membrane glycoprotein and protein of the immunoglobulin superfamily, which may mediate host-pathogen interactions and pathogenicity. Our findings end a 60-year search for the causative agent of WFCD and add to our knowledge of iridovirus genomics and invertebrate-virus interactions.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Zoologie
05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Zoologie > Evolutionary Biology (Ebert)
UniBasel Contributors:Ebert, Dieter and Tönshoff, Elena and Fields, Peter and Bourgeois, Yann
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Genetics Society of America
ISSN:2160-1836
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
Identification Number:
Last Modified:22 Feb 2019 15:35
Deposited On:22 Feb 2019 15:34

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