Encyclopedia of Virology (Fourth Edition) , 133-140 (2021/01/01/ 2021)
Metagenomics, i.e., the sequencing and analysis of genomic information extracted directly from clinical or environmental samples, has become a fundamental tool to explore the viral world. Against the background of an extensive viral diversity revealed by metagenomics across many environments, new sequence assembly approaches that reconstruct complete genome sequences from metagenomes have recently revealed surprisingly cosmopolitan viruses in specific ecological niches. Metagenomics is also applied to clinical samples as a non-targeted diagnostic and surveillance tool. By enabling the study of these uncultivated viruses, metagenomics provides invaluable insights into the virus-host interactions, epidemiology, ecology, and evolution of viruses across all ecosystems.