Ultrastructural analysis of the polydnavirus of the braconid wasp revealed that virions consist of one cylindrical nucleocapsid enveloped by a single unit membrane. Nucleocapsids have a constant diameter of 33.7 ± 1.4 nm and a variable length of between 8 and 46 nm. Spreading of viral DNA showed that the genome consists of circular dsDNA molecules of variable sizes and measurement of the contour lengths indicated sizes of between 7 and 31 kbp. When virions were exposed to osmotic shock conditions to release the DNA, only one circular molecule was released per particle suggesting that the various DNA molecules are singly encapsidated in this bracovirus. The viral genome was seen to consist of at least 10 different segments and the aggregate genome size is in the order of 200 kbp. By partial digestion of viral DNA with dIII or RI in the presence of ethidium bromide and subsequent ligation with dIII-cut pSP65 or RI-cut pSP64 and transfection into , libraries of 103 dIII and 23 RI clones were obtained. Southern blots revealed that complete and unrearranged segments were cloned with this approach, and restriction maps for five segments were obtained. Part of a 16.8 kbp segment was sequenced, found to be AT-rich (73%) and to contain six copies of a 17 bp repeated sequence. The development of the female reproductive tract in the course of pupal-adult development of the wasp was investigated and seen to be strictly correlated with the pigmentation pattern. By the use of a semiquantitative PCR, replication of viral DNA was observed to initiate at a specific stage of pupal-adult development.


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