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A Virus in a Fungus in a Plant: Three-Way Symbiosis Required for Thermal Tolerance

Science  26 Jan 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5811, pp. 513-515
DOI: 10.1126/science.1136237

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Abstract

A mutualistic association between a fungal endophyte and a tropical panic grass allows both organisms to grow at high soil temperatures. We characterized a virus from this fungus that is involved in the mutualistic interaction. Fungal isolates cured of the virus are unable to confer heat tolerance, but heat tolerance is restored after the virus is reintroduced. The virus-infected fungus confers heat tolerance not only to its native monocot host but also to a eudicot host, which suggests that the underlying mechanism involves pathways conserved between these two groups of plants.

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