Knowledge for a sustainable world

Viral diversity and coevolution with Fungal and Oomycete pathogens

Biologists observe that fungi and oomycete suffer from viral infections. These Viruses of Filamentous Organisms (VFOs) can disarm and reduce fungal and oomycete pathogens' ability to infect plants (hypovirulence). This provides biologists with a strategy to control these pathogens with viruses as biocontrol agents.

This project aims to develop pipelines to characterise viral diversity in important plant pathogens (Fusarium, Alternaria and Phytophthora genera) from publicly available sequence repositories. Viral distribution among these groups will be associated with high-resolution phylogenetics to identify associations between fungal taxa and viral distribution. 

The study of viral distribution amongst fungal taxa, alongside the increased availability of genomic data, offers new opportunities to investigate the role of Vegetative Compatibility Groups (VCGs) as barriers to viral transfer and the role of genomic defence mechanisms to limit viral and transposon proliferation in fungal genomes.

By achieving these objectives, this work will  define new criteria that candidate mycoviruses will have to pass to be successful biological control agents. Study of VFOs and the effects on their filamentous hosts may also present biologists with additional uses, such as providing a tool to study the mechanisms that control pathogenicity in filamentous organisms and VFOs ability to serve as heterologous vectors.

Keywords: Mycovirus, Virology, Viral Diversity, Fungi

Primary Supervisor: Andrew Armitage
Secondary Supervisor(s): Goncalo D R Silva, Susan E Seal
  • 2015- 2018 BSc Biochemistry University of East London
  • 2018-2019 MRes Biosystematics Imperial College London
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