Coronavirus Sequencing to Track Diversity, Virus Adaptation, and Pathogenesis in Humans and Animals
The emergence of the SARS coronavirus as a major health threat demonstrated in very clear terms the necessity of understanding the ecological relationship between human, animal and viral populations. It is widely believed that SARS CoV is the result of a zoonotic shift of coronavirus from an animal host to human hosts; however, no conclusive data have been presented that pinpoints an animal reservoir. The available genomic data is excellent for human SARS coronaviruses but that for animal coronaviruses is limited as there has been poor sampling of non-SARS coronavirus genomes from humans and animal hosts. Many emerging viruses have made the jump from wild animal to human and the dynamics of the changes which take place when viruses shift hosts are incompletely understood. The animal coronavirus sequencing project seeks to look directly at the changes in viral nucleic acid and protein sequences which occur when coronaviruses switch animal hosts. The goal of the coronavirus project is to obtain genomic information from coronaviruses isolated in the field from diverse animal hosts before, during, and after the viruses crossed species barriers and/or changed tissue tropism.