A novel botybirnavirus with a unique satellite dsRNA causes latent infection in Didymella theifolia isolated from tea plants

Liangchao Ye, Xinyu Shi, Yunqiang He, Jiao Chen, Qingeng Xu, Karim Shafik, Lanning Fu, Yumeng Yin, Ioly Kotta-Loizou, Wenxing Xu

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The unique, recently discovered fungus Didymella theifolia specifically infects local varieties of tea plant Camellia sinensis in China, and therefore, the characterization of its mycoviruses is important. Three double-stranded (ds) RNAs (1, 2, and 3, with 6,338, 5,910, and 727 bp in size, respectively) were identified in the avirulent D. theifolia strain CJP4-1, which exhibits normal growth and morphology. Characterization of these double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) revealed that the two largest elements are the genomic components of a novel botybirnavirus, tentatively named Didymella theifolia botybirnavirus 1 (DtBRV1). Conversely, dsRNA3 shares no detectable similarity with sequences deposited in public databases but has high similarity with the 5′-terminal regions of dsRNAs 1 and 2 and contains a duplicated region encoding a putative small peptide. All three dsRNAs are encapsidated in isometric virions ca. 40 nm in diameter, supporting the notion that dsRNA3 is a DtBRV1 satellite. SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis in combination with peptide mass fingerprint analysis revealed that the DtBRV1 capsid protein consists of polypeptides encoded by the 5′-terminal regions of both genomic components dsRNA1 and dsRNA2. Vertical transmission of DtBRV1 through conidia is efficient, while its horizontal transmission from CJP4-1 to other strains was not detected. DtBRV1, with or without dsRNA3, has no obvious effects on fungal growth and virulence, as illustrated following transfection of the virulent D. theifolia strain JYC1-6. In summary, DtBRV1 exhibits unique molecular traits and contributes to our understanding of mycovirus diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0003323
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number6
Early online date14 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2023


  • RNA, Double-Stranded/genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Genome, Viral
  • RNA Viruses/genetics
  • Ascomycota/genetics
  • Camellia sinensis
  • Latent Infection
  • Tea
  • Didymella theifolia botybirnavirus 1
  • mycovirus
  • botybirnavirus
  • satellite dsRNA
  • Didymella theifolia


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