An international research team led by scientists from Australia and China has discovered over 1,500 new viruses. The process of identifying new viruses is not simple. However, new sequencing technologies are offering new ways in which researchers can explore the virosphere.
Researchers collected nearly 220 species of land- and water-dwelling invertebrates residing in China. They subsequently extracted the RNA of the organisms and by using next-generation sequencing, they deciphered 6 trillion letters in the invertebrate RNA. After thorough analysis, researchers found that they had discovered nearly 1,500 new virus species. Many had uniquely distinct characteristics that did not seamlessly fall into the existing virus family tree.
Researchers have also found that over time, viruses have been trading genetic material to create new species. Professor Eric Delwart from the University of California, San Francisco, reported to BBC that “it shows a lego-like ability of different viral functional units to be recombined to create new viruses even when they originate from highly divergent viruses. The plasticity of viral genomes continues to amaze.” Researchers hope that new means of next-generation sequencing can enable further virus discovery in other species.
Research paper: http://www.nature.com/articles/nature20167.epdf?referrer_access_token=tQxzT7hrQ9AmAd5s7F094tRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0OtFP_kfYHkC49RD03InN2Riq-UN4vz9tEPyfGgkwD6d-hj80YSiX7BuUZpdqn5utReqt2mG1UBr8o1xDYpGwf-L3b7-aRe_b9bBASLKQY0PLMhaFfgLPM0JTGGY6w2X-yvVQUaDkOf_u55iCRlawtYgkgNXl6pXhKYbz0HQdIb1w%3D%3D&tracking_referrer=www.bbc.com
- Linda Shin