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Bacterial metatranscriptomes in wastewater can differentiate virally infected human populations

ABSTRACT: Monitoring wastewater samples at building-level resolution screens large populations for SARS-CoV-2, prioritizing testing and isolation efforts. Here we perform untargeted metatranscriptomics on virally-enriched wastewater samples from 10 locations on the UC San Diego campus, demonstrating that resulting bacterial taxonomic and functional profiles discriminate SARS-CoV-2 status even without direct detection of viral transcripts. Our proof-of-principle reveals emergent threats through changes in the human microbiome, suggesting new approaches for untargeted wastewater-based epidemiology.



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