Phaeoviruses are latent double-stranded DNA viruses that insert their genomes into those of their brown algal (Phaeophyceae) hosts. So far these viruses are known only from members of the Ectocarpales, which are small and short-lived macroalgae. Here we report molecular and morphological evidence for a new Phaeovirus cluster, referred to as sub-group C, infecting kelps (Laminariales) of the genera Laminaria and Saccharina, which are ecologically and commercially important seaweeds. Epifluorescence and TEM observations indicate that the Laminaria digitata Virus (LdigV), the type species of sub-group C, targets the host nucleus for its genome replication, followed by gradual degradation of the chloroplast and assembly of virions in the cytoplasm of both vegetative and reproductive cells. This study is the first to describe phaeoviruses in kelp. In the field, these viruses infected two thirds of their host populations; however, their biological impact remains unknown.
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© The Author(s) 2017.