The family Birnaviridae are a group of non-enveloped double-stranded RNA viruses which infect poultry, aquatic animals and insects. This family includes agriculturally important pathogens of poultry and fish. Recently, next-generation sequencing technologies have identified closely related birnaviruses in Culex, Aedes and Anopheles mosquitoes. Using a broad-spectrum system based on detection of long double-stranded RNA, we have discovered and isolated a birnavirus from Aedes notoscriptus mosquitoes collected in northern New South Wales, Australia. Phylogenetic analysis of Aedes birnavirus (ABV) showed that it is related to Rotifer birnavirus, a pathogen of microscopic aquatic animals. In vitro cell infection assays revealed that while ABV can replicate in Aedes-derived cell lines, the virus does not replicate in vertebrate cells and displays only limited replication in Culex- and Anopheles-derived cells. A combination of SDS-PAGE and mass spectrometry analysis suggested that the ABV capsid precursor protein (pVP2) is larger than that of other birnaviruses and is partially resistant to trypsin digestion. Reactivity patterns of ABV-specific polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies indicate that the neutralizing epitopes of ABV are SDS sensitive. Our characterization shows that ABV displays a number of properties making it a unique member of the Birnaviridae and represents the first birnavirus to be isolated from Australian mosquitoes.
Keywords: Aedes birnavirus; Aedes notosrciptus; birnavirus; insect-specific virus; mosquitoes.