Archives of Virology

, Volume 163, Issue 8, pp 2033–2036 | Cite as

Viruses do not have polythetic properties; species are polythetic classes and do not have any properties

  • Charles H. CalisherEmail author
In honor of Marc van Regenmortel

It is an honor, a privilege, and a great pleasure to be here and to participate in this tribute to Marc Van Regenmortel. As I began to organize this presentation, I realized even more how old I am. Getting old is the opposite of not getting old, but I do not particularly care for either of them. However, getting old has advantages over not getting old. For example, in 1954, as an undergraduate student, I took a class in genetics and was told that humans had 48 chromosomes. We were instructed to prepare smears of our own buccal mucosal cells, photograph dividing cells, and cut out and count the chromosomes. I was a bit nervous, concerned that I might have the same number of chromosomes as a butterfly or a dog but I counted 23 pairs. The post-doc teaching the course told me to repeat the exercise, which I did, and when I again could see only 23 pairs, he told me I might consider transferring to a less precise specialty, such as repairing automobile engines. Remarkably, the next year,...


  1. 1.
    Calisher CH (2016) The taxonomy of viruses should include viruses. Arch Virol 161:1419–1422CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Tjio JH, Levan A (1956) The chromosome number of man. Hereditas 42:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Van Regenmortel MH (1959) Determination of diffusion coefficient of turnip yellow mosaic virus by the gel-precipitin technique. Biochim Biophys Acta 34:553–554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Van Regenmortel MH (1989) Applying the species concept to plant viruses. Arch Virol 104:1–17CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Van Regenmortel MH (1990) Virus species, a much overlooked but essential concept in virus classification. Intervirol 31:241–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Van Regenmortel MHV, Maniloff J, Calisher C (1991) The concept of virus species. Arch Virol 120:313–314CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Van Regenmortel MH (1992) What is a virus? Arch Virol Suppl 5:47–53CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Van Regenmortel MH (1999) How to write the names of virus species. Arch Virol 144:1041–1042CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Van Regenmortel MHV (2000) Introduction to the species concept. In: Van Regenmortel MHV, Fauquet CM, Bishop DHL, Carstens EB, Estes MK, Lemon SM, Maniloff J, Mayo MA, McGeoch DJ, Pringle CR, Wickner RB (eds) Virus Taxonomy. Seventh Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. Academic Press, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Van Regenmortel MHV (2001) Perspectives on binomial names of virus species. Arch Virol 146:1637–1640CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Van Regenmortel MH, Fauquet CM (2002) Only italicized species names of viruses have a taxonomic meaning. Arch Virol 147:2247–2250CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Van Regenmortel MH (2003) Viruses are real, virus species are man-made, taxonomic constructions. Arch Virol 148:2481–2488CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Van Regenmortel MHV (2006) Virologists, taxonomy and the demands of logic. Arch. Virol. 159:1251–1255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Van Regenmortel MHV (2016) Only viruses, but not their genome sequences, can be classified into hierarchical species and genus classes. Curr Top Virol 13:59–68Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical SciencesColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

Personalised recommendations