Natural Cross-Kingdom Spread of Apple Scar Skin Viroid from Apple Trees to Fungi

Mengyuan Tian, Shuang Wei, Ruiling Bian, Jingxian Luo, Haris Ahmed Khan, Huanhuan Tai, Hideki Kondo, Ahmed Hadidi, Andika Ida Bagus, Liying Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Viroids are the smallest known infectious agents that are thought to only infect plants. Here, we reveal that several species of plant pathogenic fungi that were isolated from apple trees infected with apple scar skin viroid (ASSVd) carried ASSVd naturally. This finding indicates the spread of viroids to fungi under natural conditions and further suggests the possible existence of mycoviroids in nature. A total of 117 fungal isolates were isolated from ASSVd-infected apple trees, with the majority (85.5%) being an ascomycete Alternaria alternata and the remaining isolates being other plant-pathogenic or -endophytic fungi. Out of the examined samples, viroids were detected in 81 isolates (69.2%) including A. alternata as well as other fungal species. The phenotypic comparison of ASSVd-free specimens developed by single-spore isolation and ASSVd-infected fungal isogenic lines showed that ASSVd affected the growth and pathogenicity of certain fungal species. ASSVd confers hypovirulence on ascomycete Epicoccum nigrum. The mycobiome analysis of apple tree-associated fungi showed that ASSVd infection did not generally affect the diversity and structure of fungal communities but specifically increased the abundance of Alternaria species. Taken together, these data reveal the occurrence of the natural spread of viroids to plants; additionally, as an integral component of the ecosystem, viroids may affect the abundance of certain fungal species in plants. Moreover, this study provides further evidence that viroid infection could induce symptoms in certain filamentous fungi.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3686
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • cross-infection
  • filamentous fungi
  • hypovirulence
  • Mycobiome
  • Viroid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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