Insect virus-host interactions

Insect Virus Research

We study a number of insect viruses infecting wild and/or cultured insect populations. These virus infections may cause clear symptoms or stay hidden without being seen (covert infections) for a long time. Such covert infections are a threat for insect mass rearing.

We have ample experience with baculoviruses, which often cause fatal diseases in host insects. For this reason baculoviruses are being used for the biocontrol of pest insects (caterpillars and sawflies), that cause damage in agriculture and forestry. We also use baculoviruses in combination with cultured insect cells as expression vectors for biotechnological/medical applications, e.g. to produce vaccines or gene therapy vectors.

Current research themes

Our current insect virus research projects are divided over five main themes:

  1. Covert insect virus infections: here we try to understand the underlying mechanisms of covert infections and the transitions to overt infections. For more details see: Vera Ros
  2. Virus-induced host behaviour: baculoviruses induce typical behaviour int eh caterpillars they infect, such as hyperactivity and pre-death climbing behaviour. We aim to unravel the underlying mechanisms of this behavioural manipulation: Vera ros
  3. Functional genomics of baculoviruses and nudiviruses - Monique van Oers (under construction)
  4. The discovery and biology of viruses infecting mass reared insects. For more details see INSECT DOCTORS and Astrid Bryon (under construction)
  5. Application of baculoviruses for the biocontrol of insect pests, where we currently focus on the control of Spodptera frugiperda. For more information see: Vera Ros