First author: The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, P.O. Box 1106, New Haven 06504; second, third, and fourth authors: Center for Agricultural Biotechnology, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, University of Maryland, College Park 20742
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Accepted for publication 8 April 1998.
Strains of the chestnut blight fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica, have been genetically engineered to contain an integrated full-length cDNA copy of the prototypic virulence-attenuating hypovirus CHV1-EP713. Unlike natural hypovirulent C. parasitica strains, these transgenic hypovirulent strains are able to transmit virus to ascospore progeny under laboratory conditions. This ability provides the potential to circumvent barriers to cytoplasmic virus transmission imposed by the fungal vegetative incompatibility system. During July 1994, transgenic hypovirulent strains were introduced into a Connecticut forest site (Biotechnology Permit 94-010-01). Subsequent analysis of the release site confirmed hypovirus transmission from transgenic hypovirulent strains to ascospore progeny under field conditions. Additionally, it was possible to recover transgenic hypovirulent strains from the test site as long as 2 years after the limited, single-season release. Evidence also was obtained for cytoplasmic transmission of transgenic cDNA-derived hypovirus RNA, including transmission to mycelia of a virulent C. parasitica canker after treatment with conidia of a transgenic strain. Finally, a transgenic hypovirulent strain was recovered from a superficial canker formed on an untreated chestnut tree. Genetic characteristics of the recovered strain suggested that the canker was initiated by an ascospore progeny derived from a cross involving an input transgenic hypovirulent strain. The durability of a molecular marker for field-released cDNA-derived hypovirus RNA is discussed.
© 1998 The American Phytopathological Society