Berlin - In samples from 1,243 insect species, Berlin scientists discovered at least 20 new virus genera. For some, the final exams are still pending. The new insect viruses have already been entered into search databases. The results are published in PLOS Pathogens (2019; DOI:).
In order to quickly identify emerging viral diseases and prevent possible epidemics, scientists from the German Center for Infection Research () are looking at the Charité - University Medicine Berlin after viruses in the animal kingdom. "Every new virus that we find could be previously undetected cause of diseases, both in humans and in farm animals," explains Christian Drosten, Director of the Institute for Virology on the Charité Campus Campus.
The research team has therefore examined virus genomes in the largest international transcriptome database on insects. While science has so far mainly focused on mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects, this study covers all orders of insects.
Viruses with negative single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA) were systematically examined. This group of RNA viruses includes major disease-causing viruses; They trigger Ebola and measles, as well as rabies and lung infections.
The researchers selected the sequences according to length, quality and clarity - 234 sequences remained for the analysis that showed similarity to genomes of viruses that were found in Bunyavirales (n = 86), Articulavirales (n = 54) and several orders within Haploviricotina (n = 94) were classified. The team of authors was able to find complete or almost complete genomes in 61 cases. They estimate that at least 20 new viral genera in 7 families must be defined from this. "This is probably the largest single study to date in the discovery of new viruses", suspects Drosten.
The expansion of the database to include the new insect viruses increases the chances of success in clearing up unusual diseases. "We use high-throughput sequencing methods to search for all viruses that appear in patient samples," explains Drosten.
The scientists at the Charité will also work as part of the DZIF project "Virus Detection and Pandemic Prevention" Continue to prepare for emerging viruses in the years to come.