Searching for novel viruses in environmental samples is a lot like searching for a needle in a haystack, but harder. After all, with hay, you can pick up a straw, look it over, and quickly make the judgement (piece of hay or needle?) then move on to the other pieces. With viruses, researchers are usually forced to extract genetic material from a sample, then sequence and align those genes against a database of known sequences. Aligning genes is difficult and laborious, and for various biological and technical reasons, it isn’t always possible.