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Virol J. 2005 Aug 16;2:64.

International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses and the 3,142 unassigned species.

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International Laboratory for Tropical Agricultural Biotechnology, Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, MO 63132, USA.


In 2005, ICTV (International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses), the official body of the Virology Division of the International Union of Microbiological Societies responsible for naming and classifying viruses, will publish its latest report, the state of the art in virus nomenclature and taxonomy. The book lists more than 6,000 viruses classified in 1,950 species and in more than 391 different higher taxa. However, GenBank contains a staggering additional 3,142 "species" unaccounted for by the ICTV report. This paper reviews the reasons for such a situation and suggests what might be done in the near future to remedy this problem, particularly in light of the potential for a ten-fold increase in virus sequencing in the coming years that would generate many unclassified viruses. A number of changes could be made both at ICTV and GenBank to better handle virus taxonomy and classification in the future.

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