About this Research Topic
Next-generation genome sequencing efforts have led to an ever-increasing repository of whole-genome sequences of viruses. The annotation of viral genomes has revealed variations that could be responsible for novel functions or functions that have not been hitherto explained. These variations could play crucial roles in the evolutionary process of the viruses as well as their abilities to interact with hosts' cellular and molecular machinery. The cross-talk between the genetic materials of hosts and the viruses could influence the dynamic interactions between the viral pathogenesis and hosts' immune response. The hosts' cellular milieu provides an ecosystem for these interactions opening compelling questions such as what makes a particular cell a perfect viral host? What factors influence the degree of viral pathogenicity? What are the respective genome interplays involved herein? How can a virus broaden its host range and the elements that drive this aspect? The answers to several such questions could be intertwined in the genomes of the virus and the host.
The small genome size of viruses enables them to maintain a high replication rate, a crucial feature to grow their numbers within the host and spread them across the population. However, a higher replication rate follows frequent genetic mutations owing to biochemical constraints associated with it, which results in continually evolving host-pathogen dynamics, often to their advantage.
The high proportion of variations documented in viral genomes, along with its implication on host response and associated pathology, necessitates in-depth investigation into these alterations. Computational biology tools help in elucidating the origin of these sequence variations, its implication for fitness of the virus and the subsequent host responses. With the constant development of new tools in molecular biology and genomics approaches, new and improved computational algorithms are also necessary to robustly perform genome data analysis. The analyses could bring forth the relevant information that could facilitate the understanding of viral epidemiology.
The current pandemic has demonstrated the vulnerability of the human population to ever-increasing chances of new zoonotic transmission; the understanding of viral genomes is vital to counter such an outbreak in the future. This issue will focus on the genomic and evolutionary aspects of viruses that infect humans or have the potential to do so.
We invite contributions of Original Research, Methods, and Reviews covering the following topics of interest:
1. Viral genome features associated with host specificity and divergence;
2. The phylogenetic and phylogenomic network of viruses;
3. Sequencing and annotation of novel genomes;
4. Significance of non-coding regions of the genome;
5. Development of tools and algorithms for genomic data analysis;
6. Identification of biomarkers for viral diagnostics and therapeutics.
Keywords: Next-Generation Genome Sequencing, Virus Host, Mutations, Biomarkers, Phylogenetic Trees, Host-Responses
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