Special Issue "Viral Genomics and Bioinformatics"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2010).
Interests: genomics and bioinformatics of adenovirus; molecular evolution; coinfections; emergent viral pathogens; comparative genomics; bioinformatic tools development; diagnostics and surveillance
The applications of ‘state-of-the-art’ genomics and bioinformatics to viruses are very important in many regards. Viruses are human pathogens and present a tremendous burden in morbidity and mortality. Modern genomics allowed a rapid identification of a coronavirus as the causal agent of the SARS outbreak. This is but one example of the benefits of the viral genomics revolution.
As model organisms, viruses have served to increase our understanding across many fields of the life sciences, including medicine, biochemistry, genetics, cell biology, molecular biology, applied biology, biotechnology, etc. They have proven useful demonstrations of novel technical and methodological applications. And their relatively small genomes contain fascinating and often paradigm changing biological information. Viral genomics and bioinformatics have grown with high throughput DNA sequencing technology, and these are being applied to larger, multiple and more complex genomes recently.
The first DNA genome to be sequenced, at 5,375 bases, was phi-X 174 by Sanger et al., performed in 1977 as a demonstration of the utility of DNA sequencing. At the other side of the spectrum was the genome determination of Mimivirus at 1.2 Mb by Raoult et al., in 2004. In between, novel pathogens such as the SARS coronavirus have been identified rapidly based in part by their genome sequence. The pathoepidemiology and natural history of viruses can be followed by genomics and bioinformatics – HIV is a prominent example. High-throughput genome sequencing allows massive numbers of viral genomes to be sequenced, and outbreaks to be followed in great detail. The same methodology and technology are being used to understand more completely the bacteriophages, as well as plant viruses.
As improved high throughput technology is available and more bioinformatic tools are developed, application of these methodologies to viruses will solve some of the outstanding biological questions of current times, and will allow new strategies to prevent outbreaks and to alleviate the burden of viral infections on global public health.
Dr. Donald Seto
- high-throughput sequencing
- infectious disease monitoring
- pathogen evolution and natural history
- animal viruses
- plant viruses
- insect viruses