The idea that viruses can be used to control fungal diseases has been a driving force in mycovirus research since the earliest days. Viruses in the family Hypoviridae associated with reduced virulence (hypovirulence) of the chestnut blight fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica, have held a prominent place in this research. This has been due in part to the severity of the chestnut blight epidemics in North America and Europe and early reports of hypovirulence-mediated mitigation of disease in European forests and successful application for control of chestnut blight in chestnut orchards. A more recent contributing factor has been the development of a hypovirus/C. parasitica experimental system that has overcome many of the challenges associated with mycovirus research, stemming primarily from the exclusive intracellular lifestyle shared by all mycoviruses. This chapter will focus on hypovirus molecular biology with an emphasis on the development of the hypovirus/C. parasitica experimental system and its contributions to fundamental and practical advances in mycovirology and the broader understanding of virus-host interactions and fungal pathogenesis.
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