Eeva Vainio: Winner (2019) of a Best Article Award from FEMS Microbiology Ecology

27-01-20 Joseph Shuttleworth

Eeva Vainio, Senior Scientist at Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), is the winner of a 2019 article award from FEMS Microbiology Ecology. She wins the award as the main author of the winning paper: Viruses of fungi and oomycetes in the soil environment.

This is the first time that FEMS Microbiology Ecology has presented such awards and it has selcted four top papers to be the winners. We interviewed Eeva to find out more about the inspiration behind this paper:

Eeva Vainio, Senior Scientist at Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)

Could you provide a brief, simple overview of the topic your paper covers?

We address the diversity, taxonomy and lifestyles of viruses hosted by soil fungi and oomycetes. In our minireview, soil is considered in a broad sense including bulk soil, rhizosphere and litter layer. We also cover viruses infecting different ecological guilds of fungi, including saprotrophs, mycorrhizal fungi, mutualistic endophytes and pathogens, and discuss the effects of viral infections on their hosts.”

Why is it important for us to learn about the viruses of fungi and oomycetes in the soil environment?

Schematic presentation of virus morphologies in classified mycovirus taxa. Colours indicate the genome type as follows: red, ssRNA (+); blue, ssRNA (-); violet, dsRNA; green, ssDNA. Futher details are given in the paper.

Fungal and oomycete viruses represent an understudied field of research, which deserves more attention for several reasons. High-throughput sequencing has revealed a plethora of new virus taxa during recent years and set virus phylogenetics and taxonomy in turmoil. For this reason it is important to study viromes of diverse host organisms to get a more representative picture of global virus diversity.

Recent metagenomics data has also revealed horizontal transmission of viruses between fungi, insects and plants, which has changed our understanding on virus transmission pathways and host specificity.”

What encouraged you to review research within this area of microbiology?

In June 2018, I attended the conference Ecology of Soil Microorganisms in Helsinki, and I gave a presentation on “Virus communities of forest fungi inhabiting decomposing wood and tree roots”. After hearing the talk, FEMS Microbiology Ecology editor Prof. Marcus A. Horn invited me to write a minireview on virus communities of forest soils. I decided to focus the topic on fungal and oomycete viruses, which have been my primary field of research for over ten years now, and invited two postdocs (Suvi Sutela and Anna Poimala) currently working in my group to join the writing process based on their areas of expertise.”

What do you see as the next steps in this area of research?

Research on fungal viruses has so far focused on plant pathogenic fungi, while the viromes of many ecologically important groups of fungi remain uncharacterized. High-throughput sequencing has already revolutionized this research field in many ways, and continues to expand our knowledge on fungal viruses. Metagenomics studies will also give new insight on virus transmission pathways, especially between distantly related organisms.

Some fungal viruses have an effect on the phenotype of their host and may thereby affect also plant-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions essential for the functioning of soil ecosystems, but these complex interactions remain mostly unknown.”

Read the 2019 award winning paper: Viruses of fungi and oomycetes in the soil environment

See more FEMS Journals Article Awards

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