Evidence for interspecies transmission of viruses in natural populations of filamentous fungi in the genus Cryphonectria


M. G. Milgroom. Tel.: +1 607 255 7872; Fax: +1 607 255 4471; E-mail: mgm5@cornell.edu


Interspecies transmission is a significant evolutionary event that has allowed a variety of pathogens to invade new host species. We investigated interspecies transmission of viruses between the chestnut blight fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica, and a sympatric unidentified Cryphonectria species in Japan. Two isolates of Cryphonectria sp. were found to contain Cryphonectria hypovirus 1 (CHV-1), which has been typically found in C. parasitica. Three lines of evidence support the hypothesis of interspecies transmission of CHV-1. First, host species occur sympatrically and therefore have the opportunity to come into physical contact. Second, we transmitted CHV-1 between species experimentally in the laboratory. Third, phylogenetic analysis of 476 bp of the ORF B region of CHV-1 showed that sequences from Cryphonectria sp. were more closely related to those from C. parasitica than to each other. Local geographical subdivision of virus sequences from both host species argues against the alternative hypothesis of independent evolution of CHV-1 since speciation of their hosts. Based on these findings, we rule out the hypotheses that CHV-1 diverged from viruses in a common ancestor of the hosts, or that ancestral polymorphisms in CHV-1 persisted in the two host taxa. Estimating the direction and frequency of interspecies transmission in nature will require more extensive samples of CHV-1 from both host species.