Journal of Earth Science & Climatic Change
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Over 70% of emerging infectionsare linked to animal sources through zoonosis possibly as the result ofthe destruction of
animal habitats and other environmental changes caused by humans.Yet, human medicine and veterinary medicine as well as
environmental sciences have always functioned separately. The role played by animals as reservoirs or vectors of human diseases
underscores the need for an integrated approach to address public health issues. This requires not only the sharing and mining of
existing data but also to developnovel detection methods and to conduct meta-analyses to concurrently examine samples from the
three entities: human, animals and the environment. Until recently, conventional techniques such as culturing or target-dependent
molecular biology assays have been used to detectmicroorganisms involved in zoonosis. However, these techniques are unable to
detect the vast majority of unknown viruses and bacteria. Metagenomics is a relatively novel culture-independent technique that can
detect microorganisms in many types of samples and does not require a priori knowledge of the target organism to be detected.Several
tools, including crAss,a bioinformatic method based on cross-assembly (http://edwards.sdsu.indu/crass/), can be used to detect the
inter-relationships betweendifferent metagenomes (human, animal and environmental samples) to determine microorganisms that
are unique or shared between them. This permits to trace infectious agents found in humans back to their animal and environmental
sources.Given its high sensitivity, metagenomics is an ideal technique at the intersection of humanmedicine, veterinaryand
environmental sciences to detect known and novel microorganisms that are unique or shared between the three entities.
Dr John Mokili completed his PhD. in Virology from the University of Edinburgh, UK and postdoctoral studies at Henry M. Jackson Foundation and
Los Alamos National Laboratory in USA. He has more than 20 years experience in studies pertaining to virus diversity, including HIV, HCV and TTV.
He is an Adjunct Assistant Research Professor at San Diego State University where he is conducting research on virus discovery in diseases with
unknown etiology and emerging and re-emerging infectious agents. Dr. Mokili is author and co-author of more than 25 papers in reputed journals.
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