Metagenomic analysis reveals Culex mosquito virome diversity and Japanese encephalitis genotype V in the Republic of Korea

Mark A. Sanborn, Kathryn Mc Guckin Wuertz, Heung Chul Kim, Yu Yang, Tao Li, Simon D. Pollett, Richard G. Jarman, Irina Maljkovic Berry, Terry A. Klein, Jun Hang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Recent outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging viruses have shown that timely detection of novel arboviruses with epidemic potential is essential to mitigate human health risks. There are rising concerns that emergent JEV genotype V (GV) is circulating in Asia, against which current vaccines may not be efficacious. To ascertain if JEV GV and other arboviruses are circulating in East Asia, we conducted next-generation sequencing on 260 pools of Culex tritaeniorhynchus and Culex bitaeniorhynchus mosquitoes (6540 specimens) collected at Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea (ROK) in 2018. Interrogation of our data revealed a highly abundant and diverse virosphere that contained sequences from 122 distinct virus species. Our statistical and hierarchical analysis uncovered correlates of potential health, virological, and ecological relevance. Furthermore, we obtained evidence that JEV GV was circulating in Pyeongtaek and, retrospectively, in Seoul in 2016 and placed these findings within the context of human and fowl reservoir activity. Sequence-based analysis of JEV GV showed a divergent genotype that is the most distant from the GIII-derived live attenuated SA14-14-2 vaccine strain and indicated regions probably responsible for reduced antibody affinity. These results emphasize recent concerns of shifting JEV genotype in East Asia and highlight the critical need for a vaccine proven efficacious against this re-emergent virus. Together, our one-health approach to Culex viral metagenomics uncovered novel insights into virus ecology and human health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5470-5487
Number of pages18
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2021


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