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medrxiv; 2022.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2022.12.22.22283855


Sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater provides a key opportunity to monitor the prevalence of variants spatiotemporally, potentially facilitating their detection simultaneously with, or even prior to, observation through clinical testing. However, there are multiple sequencing methodologies available. This study aimed to evaluate the performance of alternative protocols for detecting SARS-CoV-2 variants. We tested the detection of two synthetic RNA SARS-CoV-2 genomes in a wide range of ratios and at two concentrations representative of those found in wastewater using whole-genome and Spike-gene-only protocols utilising Illumina and Oxford Nanopore platforms. We developed a Bayesian hierarchical model to determine the predicted frequencies of variants and the error surrounding our predictions. We found that most of the sequencing protocols detected polymorphic nucleotide frequencies at a level that would allow accurate determination of the variants present at higher concentrations. Most methodologies, including the Spike-only approach, could also predict variant frequencies with a degree of accuracy in low-concentration samples but, as expected, with higher error around the estimates. All methods were additionally confirmed to detect the same prevalent variants in a set of wastewater samples. Our results provide the first quantitative statistical comparison of a range of alternative methods that can be used successfully in the surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 variant frequencies from wastewater.

biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.07.01.181867


We have developed periscope, a tool for the detection and quantification of sub-genomic RNA in ARTIC network protocol generated Nanopore SARS-CoV-2 sequence data. We applied periscope to 1155 SARS-CoV-2 sequences from Sheffield, UK. Using a simple local alignment to detect reads which contain the leader sequence we were able to identify and quantify reads arising from canonical and non-canonical sub-genomic RNA. We were able to detect all canonical sub-genomic RNAs at expected abundances, with the exception of ORF10, suggesting that this is not a functional ORF. A number of recurrent non-canonical sub-genomic RNAs are detected. We show that the results are reproducible using technical replicates and determine the optimum number of reads for sub-genomic RNA analysis. Finally variants found in genomic RNA are transmitted to sub-genomic RNAs with high fidelity in most cases. This tool can be applied to tens of thousands of sequences worldwide to provide the most comprehensive analysis of SARS-CoV-2 sub-genomic RNA to date.