Dothistroma needle blight caused by D. septosporum has emerged in the British Isles as a major threat to Corsican pine, lodgepole pine and Scots pine. There is increasing evidence that mycoviruses can reduce the growth and pathogenicity of fungal plant pathogens. The aim of the present study is to characterise a double-stranded RNA virus found in D. septosporum and investigatefor putative hypovirulence, a common feature noted for mycoviruses, which might be used for biological control to invasion by more aggressive strains of the fungus. To this endthe viral genome was cloned and sequenced revealing four genomic segments, each one containing a single open reading frame (ORF) flanked by 5’ and 3’ untranslated regions. The ORFs encode the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, the capsid protein, a protein of unknown function and a putative protease, respectively. Phylogenetic analysis of the sequences obtained revealed their similarity to members of the established family Chrysoviridae, genus Alphachrysovirus, which are encapsidated in isometric particles and are known to elicit hypovirulence in their hosts. Subsequently, virus-free and virus-infected isogenic lines were generated to determine any effects of the mycovirus on fungal fitness and pathogenicity. More specifically, the virus-infected isolate is currently being assessed in comparison to the virus-free one in terms of radial growth in solid culture, biomass in liquid culture, pathogenicity in pine trees and production of the mycotoxin dothistromin. In conclusion, this study reports the first mycovirus ever found in D. septosporum.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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