Meeting Abstract

S7.1-3  Monday, Jan. 6 09:00  Love sick: a viral aphrodisiac in the cricket Gryllus texensis ADAMO, Shelley A*; KOVALKO , Ilya; STOLTZ, Don; Dalhousie Univ., Halifax; Dalhousie Univ., Halifax; Dalhousie Univ., Halifax sadamo@dal.ca

We identified the iridovirus CrIV/IIV-6 as a pathogen of the cricket Gryllus texensis using electron microscopy (EM) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis. Electron microscopy (EM) showed that the virus attacks the fat body, an organ important for protein production, immune function and lipid storage. During infection the fat body hypertrophies, but egg production withers, leaving the lateral oviducts empty of eggs. The females are effectively sterile. EM of the testis of infected males suggests that the testis is not invaded by the virus, although sperm taken from the spermatophores of infected males shows little or no motility. Nevertheless, males and females continue to mate when infected. In fact, infected males are quicker to court females than uninfected controls. The virus benefits from the continued sexual behaviour of its host; transmission studies show that the virus can be spread through sexual contact. Typically infected crickets court less than controls, but sickness behaviour (i.e. illness-induced anorexia) is absent in infected crickets. Total hemolymph protein is reduced, as is phenoloxidase activity, suggesting a reduction in immune protein production by the fat body. The behavioural and biochemical evidence suggests that the virus reduces immune/neural communication, increasing the likelihood of its transmission.