Baculovirus Kimura two-parameter species demarcation criterion is confirmed by the distances of 38 core gene nucleotide sequences
Kimura two-parameter nucleotide distance comparisons based on polyhedrin/granulin (polh/gran), late expression factor 8 (lef-8) and late expression factor 9 (lef-9) are a widely applied method for species demarcation for lepidopteran-specific baculoviruses. Baculoviruses are considered to belong to the same species when a pairwise distance threshold of 0.015 is not exceeded and are considered as possibly belonging to the same species with a distance of up to 0.050. In the present work this method was revised and extended for 172 entirely sequenced lepidopteran, hymenopteran and dipteran baculovirus genomes by applying the nucleotide sequences of all 38 known baculovirus core genes for pairwise distance calculations. On the basis of this large dataset, the previously established standard thresholds for baculovirus species demarcation were adjusted for pairwise nucleotide distances estimated from the alignments of all 38 core genes. With the newly applied thresholds for the 38 core-gene dataset, a more sophisticated Kimura two-parameter method was established, avoiding the possible influence of the chimerical polh gene of the Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus. Based on the new dataset, the present classification of baculovirus species was confirmed. Thereby the Kimura two-parameter method for baculovirus demarcation was extended to include the information from all 38 Baculoviridae core genes, which represent the established standard information for baculovirus phylogeny to date.
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