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In the past, iridoviruses have been distinguished from chloriridoviruses by the color of the iridescence displayed by infected insects or concentrated virus stocks and by virion size. Recent phylogenetic analysis of 10 members of these genera suggests a revision is needed and that phylogenetic placement, rather than color or virion size, is the most appropriate metric to distinguish these two genera from each other.
Virions are icosahedral particles that may or may not be enveloped. Virions display a fringe of proteins surrounding the particle. Particle diameter is 120-130 nm in ultrathin section. IIV1 and IIV2 are assumed to contain approximately 1472 capsomers arranged as 20 trisymmetrons and 12 pentasymmetrons. A detailed description of virion morphology is presented in the Iridoviridae section using IIV6 as the model.
Virions have a Mol Wt of approximately 1.28×109, a buoyant density of 1.30-1.33 g cm−3, and a sedimentation coefficient of 2020-2250S. IIV6 is sensitive to chloroform, SDS, sodium deoxycholate, ethanol, pH 3 and pH 11, but is not sensitive to trypsin, lipase, phospholipase A2 or EDTA. Sensitivity to ether and chloroform depends on the assay system employed.
Comparative genomic analysis of the IIV6 (genus Iridovirus) and IIV3 (genus Chloriridovirus) genomes shows no co-linearity between these two isolates.
Although 215 ORFs have been identified in IIV6, it is unclear whether the large number of putative proteins is due to a more complex virion, or an increase in non-structural proteins that impact virulence, host evasion, and viral replicative events. SDS-PAGE has identified more than 30 virion-associated polypeptides ranging in size from 11-200 kDa whereas proteomic analysis suggests up to twice as many (Wong et al., 2011, Ince et al., 2010). The virion core contains a major component of 12.5 kDa and at least five additional proteins.
The 212 kbp genome of IIV6 contains 215 putative ORFs. Although IIV6 and IIV3 contain 68 ORFs in common, co-linearity is not seen indicating that, as with other iridovirids, gene order is plastic and genes within the same temporal class (i.e., immediate early, delayed early, and late) are not clustered.
Early work indicated that IIV6 was serologically unrelated to any other small iridescent virus, but other isolates were related to various extents (see below). Cross reactivity likely reflects the degree of sequence identity within the MCP and other structural proteins.
Iridoviruses have been isolated from a wide range of arthropods, particularly insects in aquatic or damp habitats. For example IIV6 (also designated Chilo iridescent virus after the host from which it was first isolated, C. suppressalis, the rice stem borer) infects over 100 insect species. Patently infected animals and purified viral pellets display violet, blue or turquoise iridescence. Covert, non-lethal infections may be common in certain hosts. No evidence exists for transovarial transmission and where horizontal transmission has been demonstrated, it is usually by cannibalism or predation of infected invertebrate hosts. Following experimental infection, many members of the genus can replicate in a large number of insects. In nature, the host range appears to vary but there is evidence, for some viruses, of natural transmission across insect orders and even phyla. Invertebrate iridescent viruses have a global distribution. Interestingly, reptiles and amphibians fed iridovirus-infected insects appear to become infected (Papp et al., 2014).
The MCP of IIV1 shows 66.4% amino acid (aa) sequence identity to that of IIV6 and approximately 50% or lower aa sequence identity to iridovirids in other genera. Less than 1% DNA–DNA hybridization was detected by the dot-blot method between IIV1 and IIV6 genomic DNA (stringency: 26% mismatch). Restriction endonuclease profiles (HindII, EcoRI, SalI) showed a coefficient of similarity of <66% between IIV1 and IIV6. Moreover, these species did not share common antigens when tested by tube precipitation, infectivity neutralization, reversed single radial immunodiffusion or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Given the current ease of sequence determination, future demarcation of viral species will likely rely more on genomic sequence analysis, host range, clinical features, etc., and less on restriction endonuclease profiles, hybridization data, and immunological cross-reactivity.
Invertebrate iridescent viruses (i.e., IIVs) were designated in the order in which they were identified. They were also given common names based on the host from which they were isolated, i.e., IIV6, Chilo iridescent virus; IIV1, Tipula iridescent virus.
GenBank Acc. No.
Anticarsia gemmatalis iridescent virus (AGIV)
invertebrate iridescent virus 2 (IIV2)
invertebrate iridescent virus 16 (IIV16)
invertebrate iridescent virus 23 (IIV23)
invertebrate iridescent virus 24 (IIV24)
invertebrate iridescent virus 29 (IIV29)
invertebrate iridescent virus 31 (IIV31)
Gryllus bimaculatus iridovirus (GbIV)
These viruses likely represent species within the genus or strains/isolates of previously identified species. The genome of IIV31 (Armadillidium vulgare iridescent virus) has been completely sequenced. For the other isolates, only the major capsid protein sequence has been determined. ND, not determined.
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