Current Advances on Virus Discovery and Diagnostic Role of Viral Metagenomics in Aquatic Organisms.

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Current Advances on Virus Discovery and Diagnostic Role of Viral Metagenomics in Aquatic Organisms.

Front Microbiol. 2017;8:406

Authors: Munang’andu HM, Mugimba KK, Byarugaba DK, Mutoloki S, Evensen Ø

The global expansion of the aquaculture industry has brought with it a corresponding increase of novel viruses infecting different aquatic organisms. These emerging viral pathogens have proved to be a challenge to the use of traditional cell-cultures and immunoassays for identification of new viruses especially in situations where the novel viruses are unculturable and no antibodies exist for their identification. Viral metagenomics has the potential to identify novel viruses without prior knowledge of their genomic sequence data and may provide a solution for the study of unculturable viruses. This review provides a synopsis on the contribution of viral metagenomics to the discovery of viruses infecting different aquatic organisms as well as its potential role in viral diagnostics. High throughput Next Generation sequencing (NGS) and library construction used in metagenomic projects have simplified the task of generating complete viral genomes unlike the challenge faced in traditional methods that use multiple primers targeted at different segments and VPs to generate the entire genome of a novel virus. In terms of diagnostics, studies carried out this far show that viral metagenomics has the potential to serve as a multifaceted tool able to study and identify etiological agents of single infections, co-infections, tissue tropism, profiling viral infections of different aquatic organisms, epidemiological monitoring of disease prevalence, evolutionary phylogenetic analyses, and the study of genomic diversity in quasispecies viruses. With sequencing technologies and bioinformatics analytical tools becoming cheaper and easier, we anticipate that metagenomics will soon become a routine tool for the discovery, study, and identification of novel pathogens including viruses to enable timely disease control for emerging diseases in aquaculture.

PMID: 28382024 [PubMed – in process]

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