Send to

Choose Destination
Annu Rev Virol. 2019 May 17. doi: 10.1146/annurev-virology-092818-015851. [Epub ahead of print]

Expanding the RNA Virosphere by Unbiased Metagenomics.

Author information

Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center and Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China; email:
Department of Zoonosis, National Institute for Communicable Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Changping, Beijing 102206, China.


Although viruses comprise the most abundant genetic material in the biosphere, to date only several thousand virus species have been formally defined. Such a limited perspective on virus diversity has in part arisen because viruses were traditionally considered only as etiologic agents of overt disease in humans or economically important species and were often difficult to identify using cell culture. This view has dramatically changed with the rise of metagenomics, which is transforming virus discovery and revealing a remarkable diversity of viruses sampled from diverse cellular organisms. These newly discovered viruses help fill major gaps in the evolutionary history of viruses, revealing a near continuum of diversity among genera, families, and even orders of RNA viruses. Herein, we review some of the recent advances in our understanding of the RNA virosphere that have stemmed from metagenomics, note future directions, and highlight some of the remaining challenges to this rapidly developing field. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Virology Volume 6 is September 30, 2019. Please see for revised estimates.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center