A fungus-infecting virus transforms the fungal foe into a friend of its host plant!
Microbe of the episode
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.
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.
Other interesting stories
- Engineering E. coli to turn carbon dioxide into biomass
- Radiation super-resistant bacteria survive 1 year exposed to low Earth orbit