Guangdong Province Key Laboratory of Microbial Signals and Disease Control, College of Natural Resources and Environment, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510642, China.
Southern rice black-streaked dwarf virus (SRBSDV), a tentative species in the genus Fijivirus, family Reoviridae, is a novel rice virus transmitted by the white-backed planthopper (Sogatella furcifera). Since its discovery in 2001, SRBSDV has spread rapidly throughout eastern and southeastern Asia and caused large rice losses in China and Vietnam. Rice ragged stunt virus (RRSV) (genus Oryzavirus, family Reoviridae) is a common rice virus vectored by the brown planthopper (Nilaparvata lugens). RRSV is also widely distributed in eastern and southeastern Asia but has not previously caused serious problems in China owing to its low incidence. With SRBSDV's spread, however, RRSV has become increasingly common in China, and is frequently found in co-infection with SRBSDV. In this study, we show that SRBSDV and RRSV interact synergistically, the first example of synergism between plant viruses in the family Reoviridae. Rice plants co-infected with both viruses displayed enhanced stunting, earlier symptoms, and higher virus titers compared with singly infected plants. Furthermore, white-backed and brown planthoppers acquired SRBSDV and RRSV, respectively, from co-infected plants at higher rates. We propose that increased RRSV incidence in Chinese fields is partly due to synergism between SRBSDV and RRSV.