Hyperactivity and tree-top disease induced by the baculovirus AcMNPV in Spodoptera exigua larvae are governed by independent mechanisms

Published on
February 27, 2014

Although many parasites are known to manipulate the behavior of their hosts, the mechanisms underlying such manipulations are largely unknown. Baculoviruses manipulate the behavior of caterpillar hosts by inducing hyperactivity and by inducing climbing behavior leading to death at elevated positions (tree-top disease or Wipfelkrankheit). Whether hyperactivity and tree-top disease are independent manipulative strategies of the virus is unclear. Recently, we demonstrated the involvement of the protein tyrosine phosphatase (ptp) gene of the baculovirus Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcMNPV) in the induction of hyperactivity in Spodoptera exigua larvae. Here we show that AcMNPV ptp is not required for tree-top disease, indicating that in S. exigua baculovirus-induced hyperactivity and tree-top disease are independently induced behaviors that are governed by distinct mechanisms.