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Double-stranded RNAs associated with Fusarium proliferatum mitochondria

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Abstract

Many fungi harbor double-stranded (ds) RNA molecules, which can have phenotypic effects such as hypovirulence, altered colony morphology, and pigmentation. In some species of Fusarium, dsRNA molecules are found in every strain examined. We examined 100 F. proliferatum strains collected primarily from maize and sorghum in the United States, but found only four that carried dsRNAs. Each strain harbored a distinct set of dsRNAs, which ranged in size from approximately 0.7–3.1 kb. A single dsRNA band was observed from one strain, but multiple bands were observed from the other three. The strains with multiple dsRNAs transmitted these dsRNAs as sets at a high frequency (≥ 97 %) to vegetatively produced microconidia, but the single dsRNA of the fourth strain was only rarely (≤ 3 %) transmitted in this manner. None of these dsRNAs could be transmitted through sexual crosses in which the dsRNA-containing strain served as the male parent. Transmission through the female parent could not be tested as the field strains and dsRNA-free derivatives of these strains were female sterile. The dsRNAs from the strains with multiple dsRNAs were present in and protected against ribonuclease A digestion in crude mitochondrial preparations. The high transmission rate to single-conidiospore cultures, the lack of transmission through the male parent of sexual crosses, and the protection against ribonuclease A digestion are all consistent with a mitochondrial localization of the dsRNAs from the strains carrying multiple dsRNAs. dsRNAs often function as viruses in fungi, and the three F. proliferatum strains reported here join strains of Ophiostoma novo-ulmi, Rhizoctonia solani, and Cryphonectria parasitica as the only fungi known to carry dsRNAs associated with the mitochondria.

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Correspondence to John F. Leslie.

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Contribution number 02-495-J from the Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station (Manhattan).

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Heaton, L.A., Leslie, J.F. Double-stranded RNAs associated with Fusarium proliferatum mitochondria. Mycol Progress 3, 193–198 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11557-006-0089-5

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