Polydnavirus genome sequencing is providing new insights into viral genome organization and viral gene function. Sequence analyses demonstrate that the genomes of these viral mutualists are largely noncoding but maintain genes and gene families that are unrelated to other viral genes. Interestingly, these organizational patterns in polydnavirus genomes are evident in both the bracovirus and ichnovirus genera, even though these two genera are evolutionarily unrelated. The identity and function of some polydnavirus gene families are considered with some functions experimentally supported and others implied by homology relationships with known insect genes. The evidence relative to polydnavirus origins and evolution is considered but remains an area of speculation. However, sequencing of these viral genomes has been informative and provides opportunities for productive investigation of these unusual mutualistic insect viruses.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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