The Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly), Ceratitis capitata is a highly polyphagous pest, which infests multiple species of fruits and vegetables worldwide. In addition to the traditional control with chemical insecticides, sterile insect technique (SIT) has been implemented in integrated programs worldwide, and has become an essential measure for the control of this pest. A key issue for SIT is to release sterile males that are sufficiently competitive with males from the wild population. Using sequence information available in public databases, three novel picornaviruses infecting medflies were discovered and named as C. capitata iflavirus 1 and 2 (CcaIV1 and CcaIV2), and C. capitata noravirus (CcaNV). Additional analyses have revealed the presence of CcaIV2 and CcaNV covertly infecting most of the medfly strains used in the different SIT programs around the world, as well as in field captures in the east of Spain. High viral titers of CcaNV were associated with a reduction in the lifespan of males released to the field for the control of this pest, suggesting the possibility that CcaNV may impair the fitness of sterile flies produced by SIT programs.
Keywords: Covert infection; Iflavirus; Medfly; Noravirus; Persistent infection.
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