Metagenomic analysis of human diarrhea: viral detection and discovery

PLoS Pathog. 2008 Feb 29;4(2):e1000011. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000011.


Worldwide, approximately 1.8 million children die from diarrhea annually, and millions more suffer multiple episodes of nonfatal diarrhea. On average, in up to 40% of cases, no etiologic agent can be identified. The advent of metagenomic sequencing has enabled systematic and unbiased characterization of microbial populations; thus, metagenomic approaches have the potential to define the spectrum of viruses, including novel viruses, present in stool during episodes of acute diarrhea. The detection of novel or unexpected viruses would then enable investigations to assess whether these agents play a causal role in human diarrhea. In this study, we characterized the eukaryotic viral communities present in diarrhea specimens from 12 children by employing a strategy of "micro-mass sequencing" that entails minimal starting sample quantity (<100 mg stool), minimal sample purification, and limited sequencing (384 reads per sample). Using this methodology we detected known enteric viruses as well as multiple sequences from putatively novel viruses with only limited sequence similarity to viruses in GenBank.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviruses, Human / genetics
  • Child, Preschool
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / diagnosis
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / virology*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Gastroenteritis / virology*
  • Gene Library
  • Genome, Viral / genetics*
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Viruses / classification
  • Viruses / genetics*
  • Viruses / isolation & purification*