KSU researcher uses new sequencing method to identify unreported pathogen

A researcher from Kansas State University (KSU) recently published an article on the discovery of porcine enterovirus G, which was previously only found in Europe and Asia, in the U.S., using new methods to identify pathogens.

Benjamin Hause, an assistant research professor at KSU's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, said the virus was found in cells at the lab but was initially unidentified. After testing, Hause discovered it was porcine enterovirus G, which had never been reported in North America, Science Daily reports.

"Fortunately porcine enterovirus G doesn't do much in pigs, but it raises concerns about other viruses getting through the border," Hause said, according to Science Daily. "We're not sure if this has been here for some time undetected or is a recent introduction. Coincidentally, the virus was most similar to 2012 Chinese isolates and was detected around the same time as a couple of other viruses: porcine epidemic diarrhea virus and porcine deltacoronavirus, both of which were detected in China in the same time frame prior to the U.S."

North American hog producers have seen major losses as a result of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus and porcine deltacoronavirus. Hause has mapped the viruses at the laboratory to ensure the reliability of the sequencing methods he uses to identify pathogens that will soon be in use at the laboratory.

"As we isolate viruses, we can completely sequence their genomes," Hause said, Science Daily reports. "We can get a good understanding of what makes those viruses tick. Next-generation sequencing goes farther and allows us to perform metagenomic sequencing where we don't isolate the virus. Instead, we can sequence all DNA contained in a sample, which includes the host DNA, plus it reads all of the viruses in the sample too. It's a universal method to detect viruses that we have adapted and applied to veterinary diagnostics."

Hause developed his paper on porcine enterovirus G with Richard Hesse, a diagnostic virologist at the KSU lab who helped to recruit Hause to the university to work on his next-generation sequencing.

"As a virus mutates and changes, next-generation sequencing can be used to help update vaccines so they are still effective," Hause said, according to Science Daily. "Through this technology we can build a database with a collection of viruses based on where they came from and what kind of clinical presentation was seen. Then we can mine that dataset to match the vaccines or to get additional information on the pathogen. Some diseases such as flu mutate and change rapidly, and can jump from humans to pigs and back to humans, so it's important for both animal health and human health that we monitor and understand these viruses as much as possible."