Mycoviruses are viruses that infect fungi. They have been identified in all major fungal families. Most identified so far have had double stranded RNA genomes, often with more than one dsRNA present per virus particle, and have been spherical in shape.[1] To be a true mycovirus, they must demonstrate an ability to be transmitted - in other words be able to infect other healthy fungi. Many double stranded RNA elements that have been described in fungi do not fit this description, and in these cases they are referred to as virus like particles or VLPs.

Preliminary results indicate that most mycoviruses codiverge with their hosts, i.e. their phylogeny is largely congruent with the one of their hosts[2]. However, many virus families containing mycoviruses have only sparsely been sampled.

La France Disease

An example of a true mycovirus is the causal agent of La France disease. This is a disease that affects the edible mushroom, Agaricus bisporus. It is also known as X disease, watery stripe, dieback and brown disease. Symptoms include:

  • Reduced yield
  • Slow and aberrant mycelial growth
  • malformation
  • Premature maturation
  • Increased post-harvest deterioration (reduced shelf life)[3]

Mushrooms have shown no resistance to the virus, and so control has had to be via hygenic practises to stop the spread of the virus.


  1. ^ Bozarth, R.F., Mycoviruses: a new dimension in microbiology. Environmental Health Perspectives, 1972: p. 23-39
  2. ^ Göker, M.; Scheuner, C.; Klenk, H.-P.; Stielow, J.B.; Menzel, W. (2011), "Codivergence of mycoviruses with their hosts.", PLoS ONE 6: e22252, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022252 
  3. ^ Romaine, C.P. and B. Schlagnhaufer, PCR analysis of the viral complex associated with La France disease of Agaricus bisporus. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 1995. 61(6): p. 2322-2325.

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