First, third, fifth, and sixth authors: Tree Pathology Cooperative Programme, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, Department of Genetics, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 0002, South Africa; and second and fourth authors: Center for Agricultural Biotechnology, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, College Park 20742
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Accepted for publication 5 April 2001.
Cryphonectria cubensis is the causal agent of a serious canker disease of Eucalyptus spp. in tropical and subtropical parts of the world. In this study, a South African C. cubensis isolate was transfected by electroporation with a synthetic RNA transcript corresponding to the full-length coding strand of the C. parasitica hypovirus (CHV1-EP713). Hypovirus infection resulted in pronounced morphological changes that included a striking increase in bright yellow-orange pigment production, a reduction in mycelial growth rate, and reduced sporulation. Greenhouse studies revealed that the virus-containing strain was significantly less virulent than the original virulent C. cubensis isolate. Although the hypovirus was not transmitted through conidia produced by infected C. cubensis, the virus was readily transmitted via hyphal anastomosis to C. cubensis isolates representing a broad range of vegetative compatibility groups. These results suggest that vegetative incompatibility may not pose a strong barrier against virus transmission in South African isolates of C. cubensis and that hypovirus-mediated biological control could provide opportunities to reduce the impact of Cryphonectria canker in South Africa.
© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society