Every mountaineer knows the sinking feeling of reaching a peak after a hard climb, only to see the true summit still above. Scientists who take on the tough terrain of open access may have a similar experience. After they reach the notable goal of sharing their research papers, they discover that a higher summit awaits: open data.
"The ever increasing movement of viruses around the world poses a major threat to plants growing in cultivated and natural ecosystems. Both generalist and specialist viruses move via trade in plants and plant products. Their potential to damage cultivated plants is well understood, but little attention has been given to the threat such viruses pose to plant biodiversity. To address this, we studied their impact, and that of indigenous viruses, on native plants from a global biodiversity hot spot in an isolated region where agriculture is very recent (<185 years), making it possible to distinguish between introduced and indigenous viruses readily. To establish their potential to cause severe or mild systemic symptoms in different native plant species, we used introduced generalist and specialist viruses, and indigenous viruses, to inoculate plants of 15 native species belonging to eight families. We also measured resulting losses in biomass and reproductive ability for some host–virus combinations. In addition, we sampled native plants growing over a wide area to increase knowledge of natural infection with introduced viruses. The results suggest that generalist introduced viruses and indigenous viruses from other hosts pose a greater potential threat than introduced specialist viruses to populations of native plants encountered for the first time. Some introduced generalist viruses infected plants in more families than others and so pose a greater potential threat to biodiversity. The indigenous viruses tested were often surprisingly virulent when they infected native plant species they were not adapted to. These results are relevant to managing virus disease in new encounter scenarios at the agro-ecological interface between managed and natural vegetation, and within other disturbed natural vegetation situations. They are also relevant for establishing conservation policies for endangered plant species and avoiding spread of damaging viruses to undisturbed natural vegetation beyond the agro-ecological interface."
he most recent exposure to this highly contagious virus has occurred in a school in Chilliwack in a community with traditionally low immunization rates. Two confirmed cases of measles have been reported and Fraser Health is following up on dozens of linked suspected cases.
Public Health staff are contacting the affected families directly to offer immunoglobulin or vaccine in order to reduce the chance of the infection developing. Of particular concern is students and families preparing for Spring Break. Fraser Health is advising individuals who may have been exposed to the virus to refrain from travelling until they have been cleared by Public Health.
RNA interference (RNAi) is a powerful approach for elucidating gene functions in a variety of organisms, including phytopathogenic fungi. In such fungi, RNAi has been induced by expressing hairpin RNAs delivered through plasmids, sequences integrated in fungal or plant genomes, or by RNAi generated in planta by a plant virus infection. All these approaches have some drawbacks ranging from instability of hairpin constructs in fungal cells to difficulties in preparing and handling transgenic plants to silence homologous sequences in fungi grown on these plants.
Here we show that RNAi can be expressed in the phytopathogenic fungus Colletotrichum acutatum (strain C71) by virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) without a plant intermediate, but by using the direct infection of a recombinant virus vector based on the plant virus, tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). We provide evidence that a wild-type isolate of TMV is able to enter C71 cells grown in liquid medium, replicate, and persist therein. With a similar approach, a recombinant TMV vector carrying a gene for the ectopic expression of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) induced the stable silencing of the GFP in the C. acutatumtransformant line 10 expressing GFP derived from C71.
The TMV-based vector also enabled C. acutatum to transiently express exogenous GFP up to six subcultures and for at least 2 mo after infection, without the need to develop transformation technology. With these characteristics, we anticipate this approach will find wider application as a tool in functional genomics of filamentous fungi.
Next-generation parallel sequencing (NGS) allows the identification of viral pathogens by sequencing the small RNAs of infected hosts. Thus, viral genomes may be assembled from host immune response products without prior virus enrichment, amplification or purification. However, mapping of the vast information obtained presents a bioinformatics challenge.
Antibodies capable of neutralizing HIV-1 often target variable regions 1 and 2 (V1V2) of the HIV-1 envelope, but the mechanism of their elicitation has been unclear. Here we define the developmental pathway by which such antibodies are generated and acquire the requisite molecular characteristics for neutralization. Twelve somatically related neutralizing antibodies (CAP256-VRC26.01–12) were isolated from donor CAP256 (from the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA)); each antibody contained the protruding tyrosine-sulphated, anionic antigen-binding loop (complementarity-determining region (CDR) H3) characteristic of this category of antibodies. Their unmutated ancestor emerged between weeks 30–38 post-infection with a 35-residue CDR H3, and neutralized the virus that superinfected this individual 15 weeks after initial infection. Improved neutralization breadth and potency occurred by week 59 with modest affinity maturation, and was preceded by extensive diversification of the virus population. HIV-1 V1V2-directed neutralizing antibodies can thus develop relatively rapidly through initial selection of B cells with a long CDR H3, and limited subsequent somatic hypermutation. These data provide important insights relevant to HIV-1 vaccine development.
Studies of microbial evolutionary dynamics are being transformed by the availability of affordable high-throughput sequencing technologies, which allow whole-genome sequencing of hundreds of related taxa in a single study. Reconstructing a phylogenetic tree of these taxa is generally a crucial step in any evolutionary analysis. Instead of constructing genome assemblies for all taxa, annotating these assemblies, and aligning orthologous genes, many recent studies (1) directly map raw sequencing reads to a single reference sequence, (2) extract single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and (3) infer the phylogenetic tree using maximum likelihood methods from the aligned SNP positions. However, here we show that, when using such methods to reconstruct phylogenies from sets of simulated sequences, both the exclusion of non-polymorphic positions and the alignment to a single reference genome, introduce systematic biases and errors in phylogeny reconstruction. To address these problems, we developed a new method that combines alignments from mappings to multiple reference sequences, and show that this successfully removes biases from the reconstructed phylogenies. We implemented this method as a webserver named REALPHY (Reference sequence Alignment based Phylogeny builder), which fully automates phylogenetic reconstruction from raw sequencing reads.
In February 2013, Google Flu Trends (GFT) made headlines but not for a reason that Google executives or the creators of the flu tracking system would have hoped. Nature reported that GFT was predicting more than double the proportion of doctor visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which bases its estimates on surveillance reports from laboratories across the United States (1, 2). This happened despite the fact that GFT was built to predict CDC reports. Given that GFT is often held up as an exemplary use of big data (3, 4), what lessons can we draw from this error?
The epidemic first caused by a novel H7N9 avian influenza A virus (IAV) has emerged in China recently. Meanwhile, a novel H7N7 IAV with the ability to infect mammals was also found in China. Both IAVs of H7 subtype possess internal genes originating from H9N2. As internal polymerase genes play a key role for interspecies transmission of IAVs, it is important to trace the reassortment history of polymerase genes in the IAVs of H7 and H9 subtypes. Here, by comprehensive phylogenetic analyses of Asian H7 and H9 polymerases, we showed a significant incongruence among the tree topologies of polymerase genes PA, PB1 and PB2, which suggested frequent intra-subtype reassortments in the IAVs of H9N2. Moreover, the PA gene of H1N1pdm09 clustered with that of H9N2 located at the basal position of clade A, including most strains isolated from mammals and the recent novel H7N9 in the phylogenetic tree of PA. This finding indicated that the H1N1pdm09-like PA gene may play an important role in the human H7N9 epidemic. Results also showed that the earlier strains of H7 subtype were divided into several clusters dispersed within the strains of H9N2, implying multiple direct and/or indirect reassortments may occur between H7 and H9 polymerase genes. Furthermore, the most recent reassortments occurred multiply on the polymerase genes of the newly emerging H7N9 isolated from human in South China, evolving E627K mutation in PB2 independently. These results suggest that the reassortment history of polymerase genes in Asian IAVs of H7 and H9 subtypes is complex and timely evolutionary analyses on the novel H7N9 with newly adapted polymerase are necessary for preventing a potential outbreak in South China.
"Wild aquatic birds are recognized as the natural reservoir of avian influenza A viruses (AIV), but across high and low pathogenic AIV strains, scientists have yet to rigorously identify most competent hosts for the various subtypes. We examined 11,870 GenBank records to provide a baseline inventory and insight into patterns of global AIV subtype diversity and richness. Further, we conducted an extensive literature review and communicated directly with scientists to accumulate data from 50 non-overlapping studies and over 250,000 birds to assess the status of historic sampling effort. We then built virus subtype sample-based accumulation curves to better estimate sample size targets that capture a specific percentage of virus subtype richness at seven sampling locations. Our study identifies a sampling methodology that will detect an estimated 75% of circulating virus subtypes from a targeted bird population and outlines future surveillance and research priorities that are needed to explore the influence of host and virus biodiversity on emergence and transmission."
Reassortment of influenza viral RNA (vRNA) segments in co-infected cells can lead to the emergence of viruses with pandemic potential. Replication of influenza vRNA occurs in the nucleus of infected cells, while progeny virions bud from the plasma membrane. However, the intracellular mechanics of vRNA assembly into progeny virions is not well understood. Here we used recent advances in microscopy to explore vRNA assembly and transport during a productive infection. We visualized four distinct vRNA segments within a single cell using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and observed that foci containing more than one vRNA segment were found at the external nuclear periphery, suggesting that vRNA segments are not exported to the cytoplasm individually. Although many cytoplasmic foci contain multiple vRNA segments, not all vRNA species are present in every focus, indicating that assembly of all eight vRNA segments does not occur prior to export from the nucleus. To extend the observations made in fixed cells, we used a virus that encodes GFP fused to the viral polymerase acidic (PA) protein (WSN PA-GFP) to explore the dynamics of vRNA assembly in live cells during a productive infection. Since WSN PA-GFP colocalizes with viral nucleoprotein and influenza vRNA segments, we used it as a surrogate for visualizing vRNA transport in 3D and at high speed by inverted selective-plane illumination microscopy. We observed cytoplasmic PA-GFP foci colocalizing and traveling together en route to the plasma membrane. Our data strongly support a model in which vRNA segments are exported from the nucleus as complexes that assemble en route to the plasma membrane through dynamic colocalization events in the cytoplasm.
A new, deadly H5N8 strain of avian influenza penetrated the biosecurity defenses of a National Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) campus, prompting authorities to cull all of the facility's 11,000 hens and 5000 ducks.
The devastating loss could set back poultry experiments at the NIAS lab for 2 years. "It will likely to take up to 95 weeks to fully rebuild [the flocks] and resume normal research," says Kim Sung-Il, head of the contingency team at the Rural Development Administration, which oversees NIAS. Kim adds that the institute, which studies breed improvement and animal husbandry techniques, will reconstitute its flocks from birds kept at other facilities.
A wild goose that died of the virus was found 10 kilometers from NIAS's Suwon campus, near Seoul, on 1 February. The entire NIAS staff went to work disinfecting and shoeing away wild birds at the three centers that keep poultry. Despite those efforts, 30 ducks were found dead on 2 March at the Cheonan campus, 85 kilometers south of Seoul. The next day, authorities confirmed the cause of death as H5N8 avian influenza. NIAS immediately initiated culling, which was completed on 4 March.
The treatment is considered radical, and the results were drawn from a small scale human trial, but for the first time in medical history, researchers have boosted their patients' ability to fight HIV by replacing some of their natural immune cells with genetically modified versions.