December 2022: Neri & Gophna markedly expand known RNA virus diversity
A new study by Uri Neri and Prof. Uri Gophna discovered about 100,000 new types of viruses that were previously unknown to science.
A new study by Uri Neri, Edmond J. Safra PhD student fellow, and Prof. Uri Gophna, Edmond J. Safra member (Life Sciences), discovered about 100,000 new types of viruses that were previously unknown to science.
The team, led by Neri, in collaboration with the USA-based National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Joint Genome Institute (JGI), developed a computational pipeline to identify RNA viruses in environmental data.
Using this pipeline, they analyzed over 5,000 metatranscriptomics samples from around the world, resulting in a five-fold increase of the known RNA viral diversity. Among these new viruses are hundreds of potential new viral families. The most important finding of this study stems from the advances the researchers have made in identifying what type of organism different viruses infect. Surprisingly, the researchers found that a large portion of the viruses they have uncovered are predicted to infect bacteria and single cell organisms such as fungi.
The researchers estimate that these discoveries can help in the development of antibiotics and in defense against agricultural pests.