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Viruses. 2018 Jun 2;10(6). pii: E300. doi: 10.3390/v10060300.

Virological Sampling of Inaccessible Wildlife with Drones.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia. jemma.geoghegan@mq.edu.au.
2
Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia. vanessa.pirotta@hdr.mq.edu.au.
3
Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, Charles Perkins Centre, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. ehar6487@uni.sydney.edu.au.
4
Heliguy Scientific Pty Ltd., Sydney, NSW 2204, Australia. alastair@heliguy.tv.
5
Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, Charles Perkins Centre, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. jan.buchmann@sydney.edu.au.
6
Department of Molecular Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia. martin.ostrowski@mq.edu.au.
7
Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, Charles Perkins Centre, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. js.eden@sydney.edu.au.
8
Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Centre for Virus Research, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia. js.eden@sydney.edu.au.
9
Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia. robert.harcourt@mq.edu.au.
10
Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, Charles Perkins Centre, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. edward.holmes@sydney.edu.au.

Abstract

There is growing interest in characterizing the viromes of diverse mammalian species, particularly in the context of disease emergence. However, little is known about virome diversity in aquatic mammals, in part due to difficulties in sampling. We characterized the virome of the exhaled breath (or blow) of the Eastern Australian humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). To achieve an unbiased survey of virome diversity, a meta-transcriptomic analysis was performed on 19 pooled whale blow samples collected via a purpose-built Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV, or drone) approximately 3 km off the coast of Sydney, Australia during the 2017 winter annual northward migration from Antarctica to northern Australia. To our knowledge, this is the first time that UAVs have been used to sample viruses. Despite the relatively small number of animals surveyed in this initial study, we identified six novel virus species from five viral families. This work demonstrates the potential of UAVs in studies of virus disease, diversity, and evolution.

KEYWORDS:

drone; mammalian host; virome; virosphere; whale

PMID:
29865228
DOI:
10.3390/v10060300
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