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  1. Roux, Simon (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT South polar skuas migrate from subtropical regions to breed along coastal Antarctica. In a fecal sample collected on Ross Island, Antarctica, we identified 20 diverse microviruses ( Microviridae ) that share low levels of similarity to currently known microviruses; 6 appear to use a Mycoplasma/Spiroplasma codon translation table. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 20, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  3. Back and forth transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) between humans and animals will establish wild reservoirs of virus that endanger long-term efforts to control COVID-19 in people and to protect vulnerable animal populations. Better targeting surveillance and laboratory experiments to validate zoonotic potential requires predicting high-risk host species. A major bottleneck to this effort is the few species with available sequences for angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptor, a key receptor required for viral cell entry. We overcome this bottleneck by combining species' ecological and biological traits with three-dimensional modelling of host-virus protein–protein interactions using machine learning. This approach enables predictions about the zoonotic capacity of SARS-CoV-2 for greater than 5000 mammals—an order of magnitude more species than previously possible. Our predictions are strongly corroborated by in vivo studies. The predicted zoonotic capacity and proximity to humans suggest enhanced transmission risk from several common mammals, and priority areas of geographic overlap between these species and global COVID-19 hotspots. With molecular data available for only a small fraction of potential animal hosts, linking data across biological scales offers a conceptual advance that may expand our predictive modelling capacity for zoonotic viruses with similarly unknown host ranges. 
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  4. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Background Viruses are a significant player in many biosphere and human ecosystems, but most signals remain “hidden” in metagenomic/metatranscriptomic sequence datasets due to the lack of universal gene markers, database representatives, and insufficiently advanced identification tools. Results Here, we introduce VirSorter2, a DNA and RNA virus identification tool that leverages genome-informed database advances across a collection of customized automatic classifiers to improve the accuracy and range of virus sequence detection. When benchmarked against genomes from both isolated and uncultivated viruses, VirSorter2 uniquely performed consistently with high accuracy (F1-score > 0.8) across viral diversity, while all other tools under-detected viruses outside of the group most represented in reference databases (i.e., those in the order Caudovirales ). Among the tools evaluated, VirSorter2 was also uniquely able to minimize errors associated with atypical cellular sequences including eukaryotic genomes and plasmids. Finally, as the virosphere exploration unravels novel viral sequences, VirSorter2’s modular design makes it inherently able to expand to new types of viruses via the design of new classifiers to maintain maximal sensitivity and specificity. Conclusion With multi-classifier and modular design, VirSorter2 demonstrates higher overall accuracy across major viral groups and will advance our knowledge of virus evolution, diversity, and virus-microbe interaction in various ecosystems. Source code of VirSorter2 is freely available ( ), and VirSorter2 is also available both on bioconda and as an iVirus app on CyVerse ( ). 
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  5. null (Ed.)
    Analysis of municipal wastewater, or sewage for public health applications is a rapidly expanding field aimed at understanding emerging epidemiological trends, including human and disease migration. The newly gained ability to extract and analyze genetic material from wastewater poses important societal and ethical questions, including: How to safeguard data? Who owns genetic data recovered from wastewater? What are the ethical and legal issues surrounding its use? In the U.S., both corporate and legal policies regarding privacy have been historically reactive instead of proactive. In wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE), the pace of innovation has outpaced the ability of social and legal mechanisms to keep up. To address this discrepancy, early and robust discussions of the research, policies, and ethics surrounding WBE analysis and genetics is needed. This paper contributes to this discussion by examining ownership issues for human genetic data recovered from wastewater and the uses to which it may be put. We focus particularly on the risks associated with personally identifiable data, highlighting potential risks, relevant privacy-enhancing technologies, and appropriate ethics. The paper proposes an approach for people conducting WBE studies to help them systematically consider the ethical and privacy implications of their work. 
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  6. Current methods for viral discovery target evolutionarily conserved proteins that accurately identify virus families but remain unable to distinguish the zoonotic potential of newly discovered viruses. Here, we apply an attention-enhanced longshort- term memory (LSTM) deep neural net classifier to a highly conserved viral protein target to predict zoonotic potential across betacoronaviruses. The classifier performs with a 94% accuracy. Analysis and visualization of attention at the sequence and structure-level features indicate possible association between important protein-protein interactions governing viral replication in zoonotic betacoronaviruses and zoonotic transmission. 
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  7. null (Ed.)
    We describe the complete capsid of a genotype C1-like Enterovirus A71 variant recovered from wastewater in a neighborhood in the greater Tempe, Arizona area (Southwest United States) in May 2020 using a pan-enterovirus amplicon-based high-throughput sequencing strategy. The variant seems to have been circulating for over two years, but its sequence has not been documented in that period. As the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has resulted in changes in health-seeking behavior and overwhelmed pathogen diagnostics, our findings highlight the importance of wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE ) as an early warning system for virus surveillance. 
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