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Arch Virol. 2016 Jun;161(6):1739-50. doi: 10.1007/s00705-016-2794-y. Epub 2016 Feb 29.

A taxonomy update for the family Polyomaviridae.

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Epidemiology of Highly Pathogenic Microorganisms, Robert Koch Institute, 13353, Berlin, Germany.
Viral Evolution, Robert Koch Institute, 13353, Berlin, Germany.
Department of Medical Microbiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Division of Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, 98109, USA.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, 98109, USA.
Department of Medical Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway.
Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Unit Food Hygiene and Virology, Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Berlin, Germany.
Division 12 Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Viruses Affecting Immunocompromised Patients, Robert Koch Institute, Seestr. 10, 13353, Berlin, Germany.


Many distinct polyomaviruses infecting a variety of vertebrate hosts have recently been discovered, and their complete genome sequence could often be determined. To accommodate this fast-growing diversity, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) Polyomaviridae Study Group designed a host- and sequence-based rationale for an updated taxonomy of the family Polyomaviridae. Applying this resulted in numerous recommendations of taxonomical revisions, which were accepted by the Executive Committee of the ICTV in December 2015. New criteria for definition and creation of polyomavirus species were established that were based on the observed distance between large T antigen coding sequences. Four genera (Alpha-, Beta, Gamma- and Deltapolyomavirus) were delineated that together include 73 species. Species naming was made as systematic as possible - most species names now consist of the binomial name of the host species followed by polyomavirus and a number reflecting the order of discovery. It is hoped that this important update of the family taxonomy will serve as a stable basis for future taxonomical developments.

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