Geoghegan, J.L.; Pirotta, V.; Harvey, E.; Smith, A.; Buchmann, J.P.; Ostrowski, M.; Eden, J.-S.; Harcourt, R.; Holmes, E.C. Virological Sampling of Inaccessible Wildlife with Drones. Viruses2018, 10, 300.
Geoghegan, J.L.; Pirotta, V.; Harvey, E.; Smith, A.; Buchmann, J.P.; Ostrowski, M.; Eden, J.-S.; Harcourt, R.; Holmes, E.C. Virological Sampling of Inaccessible Wildlife with Drones. Viruses 2018, 10, 300.
There is growing interest in characterizing the viromes of diverse mammalian species, particularly in the context of disease emergence. However, little is known about virome diversity in aquatic mammals, in part due to difficulties in sampling. We characterized the respiratory virome of the Eastern Australian humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). To achieve an unbiased survey of virome diversity a meta-transcriptomic analysis was performed on 19 pooled whale blow samples collected via a purpose-built Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV, or drone) approximately 3km off the coast of Sydney, Australia during the 2017 winter annual northward migration from Antarctica to northern Australia. Despite the relatively small number of animals surveyed, we identified six novel virus species from five viral families. This work demonstrates the potential of UAVs in studies of virus disease, diversity, and evolution.
whale; virome; drone; mammalian host; virosphere
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.