Bioinformatic Surveillance Leads to Discovery of Two Novel Putative Bunyaviruses Associated with Black Soldier Fly. Academic Article uri icon


  • The black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens, BSF) has emerged as an industrial insect of high promise because of its ability to convert organic waste into nutritious feedstock, making it an environmentally sustainable alternative protein source. As global interest rises, rearing efforts have also been upscaled, which is highly conducive to pathogen transmission. Viral epidemics have stifled mass-rearing efforts of other insects of economic importance, such as crickets, silkworms, and honeybees, but little is known about the viruses that associate with BSF. Although BSFs are thought to be unusually resistant to pathogens because of their expansive antimicrobial gene repertoire, surveillance techniques could be useful in identifying emerging pathogens and common BSF microbes. In this study, we used high-throughput sequencing data to survey BSF larvae and frass samples, and we identified two novel bunyavirus-like sequences. Our phylogenetic analysis grouped one in the family Nairoviridae and the other with two unclassified bunyaviruses. We describe these putative novel viruses as BSF Nairovirus-like 1 and BSF uncharacterized bunyavirus-like 1. We identified candidate segments for the full BSF Nairovirus-like 1 genome using a technique based on transcript co-occurrence and only a partial genome for BSF uncharacterized bunyavirus-like 1. These results emphasize the value of routine BSF colony surveillance and add to the number of viruses associated with BSF.

published proceedings

  • Viruses

author list (cited authors)

  • Walt, H. K., Kooienga, E., Cammack, J. A., Tomberlin, J. K., Jordan, H. R., Meyer, F., & Hoffmann, F. G.

complete list of authors

  • Walt, Hunter K||Kooienga, Emilia||Cammack, Jonathan A||Tomberlin, Jeffery K||Jordan, Heather R||Meyer, Florencia||Hoffmann, Federico G

publication date

  • July 2023