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Viruses. 2011 Oct;3(10):1849-69. doi: 10.3390/v3101849. Epub 2011 Oct 10.

Next generation sequencing technologies for insect virus discovery.

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  • 1Department of Entomology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA.


Insects are commonly infected with multiple viruses including those that cause sublethal, asymptomatic, and latent infections. Traditional methods for virus isolation typically lack the sensitivity required for detection of such viruses that are present at low abundance. In this respect, next generation sequencing technologies have revolutionized methods for the discovery and identification of new viruses from insects. Here we review both traditional and modern methods for virus discovery, and outline analysis of transcriptome and small RNA data for identification of viral sequences. We will introduce methods for de novo assembly of viral sequences, identification of potential viral sequences from BLAST data, and bioinformatics for generating full-length or near full-length viral genome sequences. We will also discuss implications of the ubiquity of viruses in insects and in insect cell lines. All of the methods described in this article can also apply to the discovery of viruses in other organisms.


insect virus; next generation sequencing; small RNA; transcriptome; virus discovery

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