Viruses of plant pathogenic fungi

Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2009;47:353-84. doi: 10.1146/annurev-phyto-080508-081932.


Mycoviruses are widespread in all major groups of plant pathogenic fungi. They are transmitted intracellularly during cell division, sporogenesis, and cell fusion, but apparently lack an extracellular route for infection. Their natural host ranges are limited to individuals within the same or closely related vegetative compatibility groups. Recent advances, however, allowed the establishment of experimental host ranges for a few mycoviruses. Although the majority of known mycoviruses have dsRNA genomes that are packaged in isometric particles, an increasing number of usually unencapsidated mycoviruses with positive-strand RNA genomes have been reported. We discuss selected mycoviruses that cause debilitating diseases and/or reduce the virulence of their phytopathogenic fungal hosts. Such fungal-virus systems are valuable for the development of novel biocontol strategies and for gaining an insight into the molecular basis of fungal virulence. The availability of viral and host genome sequences and of transformation and transfection protocols for some plant pathogenic fungi will contribute to progress in fungal virology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungi / virology*
  • Genome, Fungal
  • Genome, Viral
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / physiology*
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology
  • Plants / microbiology
  • RNA Viruses / pathogenicity*
  • RNA Viruses / physiology*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Viral Proteins