[Mycoviruses and importance in mycology]

Mikrobiyol Bul. 2017 Oct;51(4):404-412. doi: 10.5578/mb.54128.
[Article in Turkish]


Opportunistic fungal infections like invasive candidiasis and aspergillozis have high mortality rate particularly in immunosupressive patients. The rate of therapy success with antifungal agents is usually low. Although immunotherapy methods have been developed to increase the host response against antifungals, there has been a need for new antifungal therapeutic agents in the treatment of invasive aspergillozis and other opportunistic fungal infections. Mycoviruses are the viruses that specifically infect fungi. The use of mycoviruses in the treatment of invasive fungal infections has not been suggested yet. However, as mentioned in this review, the researches about the use of mycoviruses as a therapeutic agent have been still carried on. Mycoviruses have no infectivity as free particules. Many of them have RNA genome. They are classified as: Fungi containing "double stranded (ds) RNA, ds DNA or single stranded RNA". Although most of them are found in plant pathogenic fungi, they are also found in human pathogenic fungi. In most of the mycoviruses identified up to now, dsRNA genome are present. Mycoviruses that can be pathogenic for human and carrying dsRNA genome have been classified as Partitiviridae, Totiviridae, Chrysoviridae, Reoviridae and Hypoviridae. A part of mycoviruses may not cause any sign of infection in fungal host. The other part of mycoviruses causes hypovirulence or lethal effect. When hypovirulence occured in fungi, the observed effects are the decrease in pigmentation, mycelium formation, asexual sporulation, growing rate and the loss of fertility. The transfer of mycovirus to fungi may occur by intracellular or extracellular way. The transfer of genetic content to fungi occurs in two way: transformation and transfection. In both ways, there is a need for a spheroblast that has no cell wall. There are various scenarios about mycoviruses for the their use in the treatment. In the first scenario, the transfer of selective mycovirus is ensured by extracellular way, and then the binding of mycovirus to target fungus by genetic modifications is aimed. The second scenario is about the use of mycovirus as a vector for genetic transformation. In fact, this method is applied by using toxins in fungal diseases of plants. In addition, the production of lethal antibodies or peptides derived from antibodies obtained from toxin-coding cytoplasmic dsRNA mycovirus toxins may be a new therapeutic approach. It has been claimed that these derivatives may be used as parentheral therapeutic agents against human pathogenic fungi including Candida albicans. In this review article, the importance of mycoviruses in mycology has been discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fungal Viruses / classification
  • Fungal Viruses / genetics
  • Fungal Viruses / physiology*
  • Fungi / virology*
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host*
  • Mycoses / microbiology
  • Mycoses / therapy*
  • Opportunistic Infections / microbiology
  • Opportunistic Infections / therapy*