From Spatial Metagenomics to Molecular Characterization of Plant Viruses: A Geminivirus Case Study

Sohini Claverie, Pauline Bernardo, Simona Kraberger, Penelope Hartnady, Pierre Lefeuvre, Jean Michel Lett, Serge Galzi, Denis Filloux, Gordon W. Harkins, Arvind Varsani, Darren P. Martin, Philippe Roumagnac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The number of plant viruses that are known likely remains only a vanishingly small fraction of all extant plant virus species. Consequently, the distribution and population dynamics of plant viruses within even the best-studied ecosystems have only ever been studied for small groups of virus species. Even for the best studied of these groups very little is known about virus diversity at spatial scales ranging from an individual host, through individual local host populations to global host populations. To date, metagenomics studies that have assessed the collective or metagenomes of viruses at the ecosystem scale have revealed many previously unrecognized viral species. More recently, novel georeferenced metagenomics approaches have been devised that can precisely link individual sequence reads to both the plant hosts from which they were obtained, and the spatial arrangements of these hosts. Besides illuminating the diversity and the distribution of plant viruses at the ecosystem scale, application of these “geometagenomics” approaches has enabled the direct testing of hypotheses relating to the impacts of host diversity, host spatial variations, and environmental conditions on plant virus diversity and prevalence. To exemplify how such top-down approaches can provide a far deeper understanding of host–virus associations, we provide a case-study focusing on geminiviruses within two complex ecosystems containing both cultivated and uncultivated areas. Geminiviruses are a highly relevant model for studying the evolutionary and ecological aspects of viral emergence because the family Geminiviridae includes many of the most important crop pathogens that have emerged over the past century. In addition to revealing unprecedented degrees of geminivirus diversity within the analyzed ecosystems, the geometagenomics-based approach enabled the focused in-depth analysis of the complex evolutionary dynamics of some of the highly divergent geminivirus species that were discovered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvances in Virus Research
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • Agroecosystem
  • Geminivirus
  • High-throughput sequencing
  • Plant viruses
  • Viral metagenomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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