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Syst Biol. 2018 Dec 31. doi: 10.1093/sysbio/syy087. [Epub ahead of print]

Strengthening the Interaction of the Virology Community with the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) by Linking Virus Names and Their Abbreviations to Virus Species.

Author information

Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, 1692 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO, USA.
Center for Infection and Immunity, Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 722 West 168th St., New York, NY, USA.
National Center for Biotechnology, National Library of Medicine,National Institutes of Health, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD, USA.
Unité des Virus Emergents (Faculté de Médecine, Université Aix-Marseille-IRD 190-Inserm 1207-IHU Méditerranée Infection), Marseille, France.
Robert Koch-Institut, Postfach 65 02 61, Berlin, Germany.
Department of Molecular Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Guggenheim Building, 18th Floor, 200 First St. SW, Rochester, MN, USA.
Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Blvd, Galveston, TX, USA.
National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 155 Changbai Rd., Changping District, Beijing, China.
Institut für Virusdiagnostik, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Südufer 10, Greifswald-Insel Riems, Germany.
United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, 1425 Porter Street, Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD, USA.
College of Veterinary Medicine, School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, 90 South St., Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia.
Institut für Virologie, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Charitépl. 1, 10117 Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität, Kaiserswerther Str. 16-18, Berlin.
Humboldt-Universität, Unter den Linden 6, Berlin.
Berlin Institute of Health, Anna-Louisa-Karsch-Str. 2, Berlin, Germany.
Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, Inhoffenstraße 7, Braunschweig, Germany.
Biomedicínske centrum, Virologický ústav, Slovenská Akadémia Vied, Dúbravská cesta 9, Bratislava, Slovakia.
Centre for Infectious Medicine, Institutionen för Medicin, Karolinska Institutet, Solnavägen 1, Stockholm, Sweden.
Departments of Food Science and Pathobiology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada.
Departement of Microbiology, Institut Pasteur, rue du Docteur Roux, Paris, France.
Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Dr., G312 Stanford, CA, USA.
KU Leuven, Zoonotic Infectious Diseases Unit, Leuven, Belgium.
Institut für Virologie, Vetmeduni, Veterinärplatz 1, Vienna, Austria.
Department of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Evandro Chagas Institute, Ministry of Health, Ananindeua, Pará, Brazil.
Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Veterinary Medical Sciences Building, 400 Raymond Stotzer Parkway, Texas A&M University 4467, College Station, TX, USA.
Institut für Virologie, Universitätsklinikum Freiburg, Hermann-Herder-Straße 11, Freiburg, Germany.
Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology,Mississippi State University, 402 Dorman Hall, Box 9655, Mississippi State, MS, USA.
Department of Planning and Coordination, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, Tsukuba, Japan.
Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA.
The Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics, School of Life Sciences, Center for Evolution and Medicine, Arizona State University, 727 E. Tyler St., P.O. Box 876101, Tempe, AZ, USA.
National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center, 8300 Research Plaza, Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD, USA.
Institute for Human Infections and Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Boulevard, Galveston, TX, USA.
National Institute of Science and Technology in Plant-Pest Interactions/BIOAGRO, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Department of Pathology, Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Center for Tropical Diseases, Institute for Human Infection and Immunity, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA.
Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick, B-8200 Research Plaza, Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD, USA.


The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) is tasked with classifying viruses into taxa (orders to species) and devising taxon names. Virus names and virus name abbreviations are currently not within the ICTV's official remit and are not regulated by an official entity. Many scientists, medical/veterinary professionals, and regulatory agencies do not address evolutionary questions nor are they concerned with the hierarchical organization of the viral world and therefore have limited use for ICTV-devised taxa. Instead, these professionals look to the ICTV as an expert point source that provides the most current taxonomic affiliations of viruses of interests to facilitate document writing. These needs are currently unmet as an ICTV-supported, easily-searchable database that includes all published virus names and abbreviations linked to their taxa is not available. In addition, in stark contrast to other biological taxonomic frameworks, virus taxonomy currently permits individual species to have several members. Consequently, confusion emerges among those who are not aware of the difference between taxa and viruses, and because certain well-known viruses cannot be located in ICTV publications or be linked to their species. In addition, the number of duplicate names and abbreviations has increased dramatically in the literature. To solve this conundrum, the ICTV could mandate listing all viruses of established species and all reported unclassified viruses in forthcoming online ICTV Reports and create a searchable webpage using this information. The International Union of Microbiology Societies could also consider changing the mandate of the ICTV to include the nomenclature of all viruses in addition to taxon considerations. With such a mandate expansion, official virus names and name abbreviations could be catalogued and virus nomenclature could be standardized. As a result, the ICTV would become an even more useful resource for all stakeholders in virology.


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