Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Ballinger, Matthew

Committee Member

Wang, Ying

Committee Member

Gout, Jean Francois

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access



Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Biological Sciences


Endogenous viral elements (EVEs) have been recently investigated as a source of transgenerational immune memory. These “viral fossils” are abundant in Aedes mosquitoes and partner with the host’s primary antiviral defense system, the RNA interference (RNAi) pathways. This partnership appears unique to mosquitoes, which encode an expansion of the Piwi endoribonucleases. To interrogate EVE-Piwi partnerships and their role in antiviral defense, I performed a comparative small RNA analysis of two naturally occurring EVE-virus pairs – one in the mosquito Aedes albopictus, and one in the midge Chaoborus americanus. Both express an EVE related to the nucleoprotein of their respective bunyavirus. My results show that Piwis generally do not have antiviral functions in Chaoborus, however EVEs are associated with Piwi recruitment to matched viral RNAs. These findings raise the possibility that RNAi-mediated EVE-virus interactions may be more common among insects than currently recognized.

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