A novel putative partitivirus of the saprotrophic fungus Heterobasidion ecrustosum infects pathogenic species of the Heterobasidion annosum complex.

Fungal biology

PubMedID: 21036340

Vainio EJ, Korhonen K, Tuomivirta TT, Hantula J. A novel putative partitivirus of the saprotrophic fungus Heterobasidion ecrustosum infects pathogenic species of the Heterobasidion annosum complex. Fungal Biol. 2010;114(11-12):955-65.
We characterized the bisegmented genome of a putative double-stranded (ds) RNA virus from a Chinese isolate of the fungus Heterobasidion ecrustosum, a member of the Heterobasidion insulare species complex. The larger genomic segment of 1885bp encoded a putative RNA dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp, 585aa), and the smaller one for a putative coat protein of 521aa (1826bp). Phylogenetic analyses suggest that this novel virus species, named as 'Heterobasidion RNA virus 3 from H. ecrustosum, strain 1' (HetRV3-ec1), can be assigned to the family Partitiviridae, being most similar to the Helicobasidium mompa dsRNA mycovirus with RdRp amino acid similarity of 54%. The similarity to known viruses of other Heterobasidion species was notably low (25-39%). The virus could be experimentally transmitted to members of the Heterobasidion annosum complex: the European Heterobasidion abietinum and North American Heterobasidion occidentale, and the original host strain could be cured from the virus by thermal treatment. Microscopical observations showed that hyphae of H. ecrustosum anastomosed occasionally with H. abietinum and H. occidentale, and suggested a possible route for horizontal transmission between these sexually incompatible species. The virus infection seemed to cause variable effects on the growth rate of its fungal hosts, but the results were strongly dependent on fungal strain, growth medium and incubation temperature.