Arenaviruses are one of the largest families of human hemorrhagic fever viruses and are known to infect both mammals and snakes. Arenaviruses package a large (L) and small (S) genome segment in their virions. For segmented RNA viruses like these, novel genotypes can be generated through mutation, recombination, and reassortment. Although it is believed that an ancient recombination event led to the emergence of a new lineage of mammalian arenaviruses, neither recombination nor reassortment has been definitively documented in natural arenavirus infections. Here, we used metagenomic sequencing to survey the viral diversity present in captive arenavirus-infected snakes. Check out the paper at PLoS Pathogen for the full story.
Read the paper here.


iBiology Talk by Joseph DeRisi: Genome Sequencing for Pathogen Discovery

For decades, a strange neurological disease has plagued snakes around the world. The snakes tie themselves into knots, exhibit strange behaviors, and eventually die. In this talk, Dr. Joseph DeRisi describes how his lab uncovered the mysterious agent responsible for this disease, which turned out to be an ancient arenavirus.

Watch the Full Talk Here