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Skip the Alignment? Simpler Search for Novel Viruses

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Searching for novel viruses in environmental samples is a lot like searching for a needle in a haystack, but harder. Researchers are usually forced to extract genetic material from a sample, then sequence and align those genes against a database of known sequences, but aligning genes is difficult and laborious, and for various biological and technical reasons, it isn’t always possible.
But can we skip the alignment step? In a study just released by mBio, researchers at Columbia University describe a new way to make the search for novel organisms easier by using a frequency analysis technique on sequence data.
 
 

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