Principal Investigator: María Ángeles Ayllón Talavera - Associate Professor

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 910679146 Ext:79146 / 910679132 Ext:79132 ( Lab 227-229 )



Our research is adressed to elucidate phytopathogenic fungi-virus interactions focusing the studies on Botrytis cinerea.

The grey mold fungus Botrytis cinerea (teleomorph Botryotinia fuckeliana) is a necrotrophic plant pathogenic fungus that causes enormous economic losses worldwide in pre- and postharvest crops as important as horticultural, ornamental and fruit trees, so it has turned into model of study of necrotrophic fungi with a very wide host range. Fungal viruses or mycoviruses are widespread in all major groups of phytopathogenic fungi and, in general, are associated with non symptomatic infections of their hosts but some of them decrease the virulence of the infected fungus. The discovery of mycoviruses and its use as a tool to increase the knowledge about fungi biology, as well as its possible application in biocontrol strategies, has stimulated its study in B. cinerea. The main goal of our reseach is to gain insight in the molecular mechanisms of the interaction between mycoviruses and B. cinerea, and in the implications of this interaction with the plant, in order to develop future more efficient control strategies. We are interested in the biological and molecular characterization of mycoviruses that infect B. cinerea field isolates,  in their effects on fungal gene expression and virulence, in the RNA silencing function as an antiviral defense mechanism in B. cinerea, and also in the origin and evolution of mycoviruses.

We have analyzed two colletions of B. cinerea strains, one isolated from horticultural crops and other isolated from grapevine from the South and Center Spain, respectively, and found mycoviruses in most of them. We have performed the biological and molecular characterization of different novel mycoviruses infecting several Botrytis species and we have observed that some of them are related to plant viruses. We have also determined the effect of these viruses on the virulence and phenotype of the fungus. Now, we are analyzing the viral small RNAs populations in Botrytis species infected with different mycoviruses. In our new project we are very interested in the study of the origin and the evolution of mycoviruses, since some of them are related to plant viruses.



Phylogenetic tree obtained by Maximum Likelihood method with the RdRp sequences of mycoviruses and plant ourmiaviruses.


Microconidia of B.cinerea.    


Electron micrograph of a long flexuous rod shaped virus like particle in partially purified preparations from mycelium of a B. cinerea isolate.


Virulence of different isolates of B. cinerea infected with mycoviruses.


Research projects:
  • Virome NGS analysis of pests and pathogens for plant protection. H2020-SFS-17, 2018-2021. PI: M.A. Ayllón
  • A virological approach to biocontrol Botrytis cinerea, a significant plant pathogenic fungus also relevant to human health. 2018-2021. PI: M.A. Ayllón
  • Origin and evolution of mycoviruses. Proyecto Explora Ciencia-MINECO (AGL2014-62178-EXP), 2015-2018. PI: M.A. Ayllón
  • Virus-fungus-plant interaction: mycoviruses of Botrytis cinerea, mechanisms of pathogenesis and RNA silencing. MICINN (AGL2009-11778), 2010-2013. PI: M.A. Ayllón

Representative Publications

Maes, P., Amarasinghe, G.K., Ayllón, M.A., Basler, C.F., Bavari, S., Blasdell, K.R., Briese, T., Brown, P.A., Bukreyev, A., Balkema-Buschmann, A., Buchholz, U.J., Chandran, K., Crozier, I., de Swart, R.L., Dietzgen, R.G., Dolnik, O., Domier, L.L., Drexler, J.F., Dürrwald, R., Dundon, W.G., Duprex, W.P., Dye, J.M., Easton, A.J., Fooks, A.R., Formenty, P.B.H., Fouchier, R.A.M., Freitas-Astúa, J., Ghedin, E., Griffiths, A., Hewson, R., Horie, M., Hurwitz, J.L., Hyndman, T.H., Jiāng, D., Kobinger, G.P., Kondō, H., Kurath, G., Kuzmin, I.V., Lamb, R.A., Lee, B., Leroy, E.M., Lǐ, J., Marzano, S.-Y.L., Mühlberger, E., Netesov, S.V., Nowotny, N., Palacios, G., Pályi, B., Pawęska, J.T., Payne, S.L., Rima, B.K., Rota, P., Rubbenstroth, D., Simmonds, P., Smither, S.J., Song, Q., Song, T., Spann, K., Stenglein, M.D., Stone, D.M., Takada, A., Tesh, R.B., Tomonaga, K., Tordo, N., Towner, J.S., van den Hoogen, B., Vasilakis, N., Wahl, V., Walker, P.J., Wang, D., Wang, L.-F., Whitfield, A.E., Williams, J.V., Yè, G., Zerbini, F.M., Zhang, Y.-Z., Kuhn, J.H. 2019. Taxonomy of the order Mononegavirales: second update 2018. Archives of Virology. DOI: 10.1007/s00705-018-04126-4

Parizad, S; Dizadji, A; Koohi Habibi, M; Winter, S; Kalantari, S; Movi, S; García-Arenal, F; Ayllón, MA. "Description and genetic variation of a distinct species of Potyvirus infecting saffron (Crocus sativus L.) plants in major production regions in Iran". Annals of Applied Biology. DOI: 10.1111/aab.12456".

Fernández-Tabanera, E; Fraile, A; Lunello, P; Garcia-Arenal, F; Ayllon, MA. 2018. "First Report of Onion Yellow Dwarf Virus in Leek (Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum) in Spain". Plant Disease. DOI: 10.1094/PDIS-06-17-0892-PDN".

Parizad, S; Dizadji, A; Koohi Habibi, M; Winter, S; Kalantari, S; Garcia-Arenal, F; Ayllón, MA. 2017. "Prevalence of saffron latent virus (saLV), a new Potyvirus species, in saffron fields of Iran". Journal of Plant Pathology. DOI: 10.4454/jpp.v99i3.3963".

Illana, A; Marconi, M; Rodríguez-Romero, J; Xu, P; Dalmay, T; Wilkinson, MD; Ayllón, MÁ; Sesma, A. 2017. "Molecular characterization of a novel ssRNA ourmia-like virus from the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae". Archives of Virology. DOI: 10.1007/s00705-016-3144-9".

Donaire, L; Ayllón, MA. 2017. "Deep sequencing of mycovirus-derived small RNAs from Botrytis species". Molecular Plant Pathology. 18(8): 1127-1137. DOI: 10.1111/mpp.12466".

Donaire, L; Pagán, I; Ayllón, MA. 2016. "Characterization of Botrytis cinerea negative-stranded RNA virus 1, a new mycovirus related to plant viruses, and a reconstruction of host pattern evolution in negative-sense ssRNA viruses". Virology. DOI:".

Donaire, L; Rozas, J; Ayllón, MA. 2016. "Molecular characterization of Botrytis ourmia-like virus, a mycovirus close to the plant pathogenic genus Ourmiavirus". Virology. DOI: 10.1016/j.virol.2015.11.027".

Rodríguez-García, C; Medina, V; Alonso, A; Ayllón, MA. 2014. "Mycoviruses of Botrytis cinerea isolates from different hosts". Annals of Applied Biology. DOI: 10.1111/aab.12073".

Rodelo-Urrego, M; Pagán, I; González-Jara, P; Betancourt, M; Moreno-Letelier, A; Ayllón, MA; Fraile, A; Piñero, D; García-Arenal, F. 2013. "Landscape heterogeneity shapes host-parasite interactions and results in apparent plant-virus codivergence". Molecular Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/mec.12232".

Centre for Plant Biotechnology and Genomics UPM – INIA Parque Científico y Tecnológico de la U.P.M. Campus de Montegancedo
Autopista M-40, Km 38 - 28223 Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid) Tel.: +34 91 0679100 ext. 79100 Fax: +34 91 7157721. Location and Contact

Síguenos en: