Project goals


  1. The ability to detect multiple viral agents in parallel e.g. differential diagnosis of agents from other diseases that cause similar clinical symptoms, or the recognition of complex mixtures of agents.
  2. Clarification of syndromes of unknown aetiology.
  3. Increase speed of diagnosis of unknown pathogens ("future proofed" surveillance tools).
  4. Viral typing (AIV, FMDV, Rabies).
  5. Drive policy for diagnostics and disease control.
  6. Epidemiological tracing.
  7. Interagency collaboration. The consortium consists of National, EU and OIE reference laboratories and has access to real sample material from a wide selection of hosts and viruses.
  8. This project provides marked added value for previous and ongoing microarray projects that would otherwise be working in parallel rather than in concert. Together this consortium has critical mass which will be able to develop common and interoperable protocols, platforms and tools for viruses across the whole Defra "family".


The overall aim of the project is to develop and validate (where possible) a generic platform technology and series of protocols for the identification and characterisation of viruses responsible for diseases in animals, plants and fish, including the major quarantine viruses of interest to Defra. Specifically, the project aims to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Probe design (bioinformatics). To design specific synthetic oligonucleotide probes for all the viruses, viral genera and families of statutory concern to Defra.
  2. Assay protocols. To develop robust and reproducible micro-array diagnostic protocols including slide chemistry, amplification strategy, probe labelling and hybridisation conditions
  3. Platform technologies. To establish the advantages and disadvantages of currently available commercial array (hardware) platform technologies.
  4. High resolution (resequencing) arrays. To assess the utility of high resolution (resequencing) arrays for fine scale typing of statutory viruses
  5. Array analysis. To develop standardised protocols for the analysis and data dissemination of micro-array data from the "biosecurity chip"
  6. Array validation. To validate the "biosecurity chip" array and common assay protocol against selected quarantine viruses available as reference material in partner laboratories.