Non-retroviral Endogenous Viral Elements in Tephritid Fruit Flies Reveal Former Viral Infections Not Related to Known Circulating Viruses

Luis Hernández-Pelegrín, Vera I.D. Ros, Salvador Herrero, Cristina M. Crava*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


A wide variety of insect-specific non-retroviral RNA viruses specifically infect insects. During viral infection, fragments of viral sequences can integrate into the host genomes creating non-retroviral endogenous viral elements (nrEVEs). Although the exact function of nrEVEs is so far unknown, some studies suggest that nrEVEs may interfere with virus replication by producing PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) that recognize and degrade viral RNAs through sequence complementarity. In this article, we identified the nrEVEs repertoire of ten species within the dipteran family Tephritidae (true fruit flies), which are considered a major threat to agriculture worldwide. Our results suggest that each of these species contains nrEVEs, although in limited numbers, and that nrEVE integration may have occurred both before and after speciation. Furthermore, the majority of nrEVEs originated from viruses with negative single-stranded RNA genomes and represent structural viral functions. Notably, these nrEVEs exhibit low similarity to currently known circulating viruses. To explore the potential role of nrEVEs, we investigated their transcription pattern and the production of piRNAs in different tissues of Ceratitis capitata. We successfully identified piRNAs that are complementary to the sequence of one nrEVE in C. capitata, thereby highlighting a potential link between nrEVEs and the piRNA pathway. Overall, our results provide valuable insights into the comparative landscape of nrEVEs in true fruit flies, contributing to the understanding of the intimate relation between fruit flies and their past and present viral pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number1
Early online date1 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Evolutionary virology
  • Insect immunity
  • Insect-virus ecology
  • Paleovirology
  • Small RNA


Dive into the research topics of 'Non-retroviral Endogenous Viral Elements in Tephritid Fruit Flies Reveal Former Viral Infections Not Related to Known Circulating Viruses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this