Biomolecules are increasingly attractive templates for the synthesis of functional nanomaterials. Chief among them are the plant Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) and Barley stripe mosaic virus (BSMV) due to their high aspect ratio, narrow size distribution, diverse biochemical functionalities presented on the surface, and compatibility with a number of chemical conjugations. These properties are also easily manipulated by genetic modification to enable the synthesis of a range of metallic and non-metallic nanomaterials for diverse applications. This article reviews the characteristics of TMV, BSMV, and their virus-like particle (VLP) derivatives and how these may be manipulated to extend their use and function. A focus of recent efforts has been on greater understanding and control of the self-assembly processes that drive biotemplate formation. We briefly outline how these features have been exploited in engineering applications such as sensing, catalysis, and energy storage, and discuss emerging advances that promise to accelerate the development of these biotemplates for widescale industrial use.