Studies on the virome of the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana reveal novel dsRNA elements and mild hypervirulence.
The entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana has a wide host range and is used as a biocontrol agent against arthropod pests. Mycoviruses have been described in phytopathogenic fungi while in entomopathogenic fungi their presence has been reported only rarely. Here we show that 21.3% of a collection of B. bassiana isolates sourced from worldwide locations, harbor dsRNA elements. Molecular characterization of these elements revealed the prevalence of mycoviruses belonging to the Partitiviridae and Totiviridae families, the smallest reported virus to date, belonging to the family Narnaviridae, and viruses unassigned to a family or genus. Of particular importance is the discovery of members of a newly proposed family Polymycoviridae in B. bassiana. Polymycoviruses, previously designated as tetramycoviruses, consist of four non-conventionally encapsidated capped dsRNAs. The presence of additional non-homologous genomic segments in B. bassiana polymycoviruses and other fungi illustrates the unprecedented dynamic nature of the viral genome. Finally, a comparison of virus-free and virus-infected isogenic lines derived from an exemplar B. bassiana isolate revealed a mild hypervirulent effect of mycoviruses on the growth of their host isolate and on its pathogenicity against the greater wax moth Galleria mellonella, highlighting for the first time the potential of mycoviruses as enhancers of biocontrol agents.