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Big Discovery --- A New Type of “Bridging” Virus Found

Recently, PLoS Pathogens published an article “Virus-mediated suppression of host non-self recognition facilitates horizontal transmission of heterologous viruses”, which is about the latest findings in Mycovirus and in its biological control reported by Prof. Jiang Daohong of HZAU and colleagues. This article, selected as the “Featured Research” by the chief editor, was published in the journal homepage with a review “Novel virus breaks barriers between incompatible fungi” highlighting its content and significance. Doctoral student Wu Songsong is the first author and Prof. Xie Jiatao from the College of Plant Sciences and Technology of HZAU is the corresponding author.

To utilize hypovirulence-associated mycoviruses to control fungal plant diseases is a potential strategy and has great value of application in controlling plant diseases. The mycoviruses are mainly transmitted by hyphal fusing among host individuals, but the complicated fungal vegetative incompatibility (VIC) restricts the spread and transmission of the viruses in the colony, thus diminishing the effect of biological control of the related virulence-recession virus. Therefore, how to conquer the fungal vegetative incompatibility is the key to the scientific problem of utilizing mycoviruses to control plant diseases effectively.

The researchers found that the hypovirulence-associated Sclerotinia sclerotiorum mycoreovirus 4 (SsMYRV4) can suppress the expression of G protein gene and the genes related to vegetative incompatibility (VIC) in the hosts, thus attenuating their VIC response induced by programmed cell death (PCD). Cellular staining and micro-observation both showed that the strain infected with SsMYRV4 could have hyphal fusion with different VIC individuals. SsMYRV4 promotes the transmission of other hypovirulence-associated mycoviruses among different VIC individuals when the same strain was infected with both SsMYRV4 and other viruses like SsDRV and SsMV1. Thus, SsMYRV4 and its host function as a bridge for the effective transmission of hypovirulence-related viruses in the Sclerotinia sclerotiorum colony Besides, most of the hypovirulence virus-mediated strains showed characteristics of malnutrition and poor ability to survive in the wild and this was also one of the defects that limit the practical application of mycoviruses. However, SsMYRV4 can enhance the host’s adaptability to the environment such as increasing its high infiltration capacity and resistance to reactive oxygen. This special characteristic of SsMYRV4, thus has provided a new strategy for the application of viruses that have potential of biological control yet are limited by VIC and it also enhanced people’s awareness of virus ecology and its evolution.

This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31371982) and the National Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars (31125023), etc.

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(By Zhang Li)