Symbiotic polydnavirus of a parasite manipulates caterpillar and plant immunity

Ching Wen Tan, Michelle Peiffer, Kelli Hoover, Cristina Rosa, Flor E. Acevedo, Gary W. Felton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Obligate symbioses occur when organisms require symbiotic relationships to survive. Some parasitic wasps of caterpillars possess obligate mutualistic viruses called “polydnaviruses.” Along with eggs, wasps inject polydnavirus inside their caterpillar hosts where the hatching larvae develop inside the caterpillar. Polydnaviruses suppress the immune systems of their caterpillar hosts, which enables egg hatch and wasp larval development. It is unknown whether polydnaviruses also manipulate the salivary proteins of the caterpillar, which may affect the elicitation of plant defenses during feeding by the caterpillar. Here, we show that a polydnavirus of the parasitoid Microplitis croceipes, and not the parasitoid larva itself, drives the regulation of salivary enzymes of the caterpillar Helicoverpa zea that are known to elicit tomato plant-defense responses to herbivores. The polydnavirus suppresses glucose oxidase, which is a primary plant-defense elicitor in the saliva of the H. zea caterpillar. By suppressing plant defenses, the polydnavirus allows the caterpillar to grow at a faster rate, thus improving the host suitability for the parasitoid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5199-5204
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 15 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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