Introduction. Small RNA-containing viruses (less than 40 nm diameter) have been isolated from a wide range of insect species, and the infection of insect cell cultures by several of these viruses has permitted an examination of their replicative events. Much of the research in insect virology has been directed towards the use of viruses as field control agents for pest species, but it is unlikely that small RNA viruses will be used extensively for this purpose until more is known about their molecular biology, pathology and host range. A major problem regarding their potential use as insect control agents is created by several reported interactions between small RNA viruses of insects and antibodies in mammalian sera (Longworth , 1973; MacCallum , 1979; Scotti & Longworth, 1980; Moore , 1981). It is likely that inadequate monitoring of baculovirus preparations used in field control of pest insects has led to the accidental spread of small RNA viruses (Hess , 1977, 1978).


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