The complete genetic coding sequences of 150 different avian influenza viruses were released Friday by U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists and government, industry and university collaborators. The information improves scientific understanding of avian influenza, a virus that mainly infects birds but that can also infect humans.
"This is a major milestone in avian influenza research," said David Suarez, research leader of the Exotic & Emerging Avian Viral Diseases Research Unit at the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory operated at
"This sequence information, deciphered by our large team, will help researchers better understand virus biology and improve diagnostic tests for avian influenza viruses," Suarez added.
The May 30 release to GenBank, the National Institutes of Health's genetic sequence database, was part of a special sequencing project supported by the presidential initiative on avian influenza. Partners involved in collecting the viruses included USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service's Wildlife Services, as well as researchers at the University of Georgia, Ohio State University and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and others.