RNA viruses of filamentous fungi fall into two broad categories, those that contain double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) genomes in rigid particles and those that are more closely related to positive-sense, single-stranded RNA viruses with dsRNA replicative intermediates found within lipid vesicles. Effective infectivity systems have been described for the latter, using RNA transcripts, but not for the former. We report the characterization of a reovirus from Cryphonectria parasitica, the filamentous fungus that causes chestnut blight disease. The virus substantially reduces the virulence of the fungus and results in dramatically altered colony morphology, as well as changes in other associated fungal traits, relative to the virus-free isogenic strain. Virus particles from infected mycelium contained 11 segments of dsRNA and showed characteristics typical of the family Reoviridae. Sequences of the largest three segments revealed that the virus is closely related to the Coltivirus genus of animal pathogens, which includes the human pathogen Colorado tickfever virus. The introduction of purified virus particles into protoplasts from virus-free isolates of the fungus resulted in a newly infected mycelium with the same morphology and virus composition as the original virus-infected isolate. This represents the completion of Koch's postulates for a true dsRNA virus from a filamentous fungus and the description of a definitive fungal member of the family Reoviridae.
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