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Research article2020Peer reviewed

Application of Viral Metagenomics for Study of Emerging and Reemerging Tick-Borne Viruses

Damian, Donath; Maghembe, Reuben; Damas, Modester; Wensman, Jonas Johansson; Berg, Mikael


Ticks are important vectors for different tick-borne viruses, some of which cause diseases and death in humans, livestock, and wild animals. Tick-borne encephalitis virus, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, Kyasanur forest disease virus, severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus, Heartland virus, African swine fever virus, Nairobi sheep disease virus, and Louping ill virus are just a few examples of important tick-borne viruses. The majority of tick-borne viruses have RNA genomes that routinely undergo rapid genetic modifications such as point mutations during their replication. These genomic changes can influence the spread of viruses to new habitats and hosts and lead to the emergence of novel viruses that can pose a threat to public health. Therefore, investigation of the viruses circulating in ticks is important to understand their diversity, host and vector range, and evolutionary history, as well as to predict new emerging pathogens. The choice of detection method is important, as most methods detect only those viruses that have been previously well described. On the other hand, viral metagenomics is a useful tool to simultaneously identify all the viruses present in a sample, including novel variants of already known viruses or completely new viruses. This review describes tick-borne viruses, their historical background of emergence, and their reemergence in nature, and the use of viral metagenomics for viral discovery and studies of viral evolution.


tick-borne virus; emerging tick-borne virus; viral metagenomics; high-throughput sequencing

Published in

Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
2020, Volume: 20, number: 8, pages: 557-565