Monday, December 21, 2020

441 - Hyphal Hijacker Helps Harvests

Fungus growing in root
By Zhang et al. 2020
Molec Plant 13:1420-1433
This episode: A fungus-infecting virus transforms the fungal foe into a friend of its host plant!

Download Episode (6.1 MB, 8.9 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: Hepacivirus J

Viruses can be useful for treating various diseases, especially bacterial infections and cancer. Their ability to target certain cell types specifically makes them great at hunting down and killing disease-causing cells without harming the body's healthy tissue. And just as bacteriophages can work to treat bacterial disease in us, fungal viruses could help to treat serious fungal infections in crop plants.

In this study, a fungus-infecting virus goes beyond treating a deadly fungal disease in rapeseed plants. Fungus infected with this virus no longer causes disease, but lives in harmony with the host plant, protects it from other fungal diseases, and even helps it to grow better.

Journal Paper:
Zhang H, Xie J, Fu Y, Cheng J, Qu Z, Zhao Z, Cheng S, Chen T, Li B, Wang Q, Liu X, Tian B, Collinge DB, Jiang D. 2020. A 2-kb Mycovirus Converts a Pathogenic Fungus into a Beneficial Endophyte for Brassica Protection and Yield Enhancement. Mol Plant 13:1420–1433.

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