Giant viruses and amoebae are common in freshwater, where they can coexist with various insects. We screened insect larvae to detect giant viruses using a high-throughput method.
We analyzed 86 Eristalis tenax larvae obtained from stagnant water reservoirs in Tunisia. The larvae were decontaminated and then dissected to remove internal parts for coculture with Acanthamoeba polyphaga. Genome sequencing of isolated viruses was performed on a 454 Roche instrument, and comparative genomics were performed.
One Marseillevirus, named Insectomime virus, was isolated. The genome assembly generated two scaffolds, which were 382,776 and 3,855 bp in length. Among the 477 identified predicted proteins, the best hit for 435 of the identified proteins was a Marseillevirus or Lausannevirus protein. Tunisvirus was the most closely related to Insectomime, with 446 orthologs. One Insectomime protein shared with Lausannevirus and Tunisvirus showed the highest similarity with a protein from an aphid.
The isolation of a Marseillevirus from an insect expands the diversity of environments in which giant viruses have been isolated. The coexistence of larvae and giant viruses in stagnant water may explain the presence of the giant virus in the larva internal structures. This study illustrates the putative role of amoeba in lateral gene transfer not only between the organisms it phagocytoses, but also between organisms living in the same environment. © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.