Gypsy moth viral controller identified
A team of researchers led by the US Penn State University, has identified a gene that over-rides normal risk avoidance strategies in gypsy moths ( Lymantria dispar) infected with the baculovirus, nucleopolyhedrovirus (LdNPV). Normally, gypsy moth caterpillars only feed at night, when they climb into treetops, and hide at lower levels during the day. Caterpillars infected with LdNPV remain in treetops, feeding continuously. The change in behaviour is caused by the virus inhibiting the host hormonal signals that control feeding activity and trigger pupation. The switch from imago to pupa takes 24 hours, during which time the caterpillar does not feed. Inhibiting moulting extends the period in which the virus can multiply within its host.