Introduction to the Universal System of Virus Taxonomy

  • Frederick A. Murphy
  • Claude M. Fauquet
  • David H. L. Bishop
  • Said A. Ghabrial
  • Audrey W. Jarvis
  • Giovanni P. Martelli
  • Mike A. Mayo
  • Max D. Summers
Part of the Archives of Virology Supplement 10 book series (ARCHIVES SUPPL, volume 10)


The earliest experiments involving viruses were designed to separate them from microbes that could be seen in the light microscope and that usually could be cultivated on rather simple media. In the experiments that led to the first discoveries of viruses, by Beijerinck and Ivanovski (tobacco mosaic virus), Loeffler and Frosch (foot-and-mouth disease virus), and Reed and Carroll (yellow fever virus) at the turn of the century, one single physicochemical characteristic was measured, that being their small size as assessed by filterability (Waterson and Wilkinson, 1978). No other physicochemical measurements were made at that time, and most studies of viruses centered on their ability to cause infections and diseases. The earliest efforts to classify viruses, therefore, were based upon perceived common pathogenic properties, common organ tropisms, and common ecological and transmission characteristics. For example, viruses that share the pathogenic property of causing hepatitis (e.g., hepatitis A virus, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, yellow fever virus, and Rift Valley fever virus) would have been brought together as “the hepatitis viruses,” and plant viruses causing mosaics (e.g., cauliflower mosaic virus, ryegrass mosaic virus, brome mosaic virus, alfalfa mosaic virus, and tobacco mosaic virus) would have been brought together as “the mosaic viruses.”


Rift Valley Fever Virus Yellow Fever Virus Brome Mosaic Virus Virus Taxonomy Phylogenetic Taxonomy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References for Part I

  1. American Type Culture Collection (1990) Catalogue of Animal Viruses and Antisera, Chlamydiae and Rickettsiae, Sixth Edition. American Type Culture Collection, Rockville, MarylandGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrewes CH (1954) Nomenclature of Viruses. Nature 173: 260–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andrewes CH, Bang FB, Burnet FM (1955) A short description of the Myxovirus group (influenza and related viruses). Virology 1:176–180PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Atherton JG, Holmes IH, Jobbins EH (1983) ICTV code for the description of virus characters. Monogr Virol 14: 1–154Google Scholar
  5. Bawden FC (1941) Plant Viruses and Virus Diseases, First Edn. Chronica Botanica Company, Waltham, MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
  6. Bawden FC (1950) Plant Viruses and Virus Diseases, Third Edn. Chronica Botanica Company, Waltham, MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
  7. Bishop DHL, Calisher CH, Casals J, Chumakov MP, Gaidamovich SY, Hanoun C, Lvov DK, Marshall ID, Oker Blom N, Pettersson R, Porterfield JS, Russell PK, Shope RE, Westaway EG (1980) Bunyaviridae. Intervirology 14:125–143PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Boswell KF, Gibbs AJ (eds) (1983) Viruses of Legumes. Australian National University, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  9. Boswell KF, Dallwitz MJ, Gibbs AJ, Watson L (1986) The VIDE (Virus Identification Data Exchange) project: a data bank for plant viruses. Rev Plant Pathol 65: 221–231Google Scholar
  10. Brandes J, Wetter C (1959) Classification of elongated plant viruses on the basis of particle morphology. Virology 8:99–109PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brenner S, Horne RW (1959) A negative staining method for high resolution electron microscopy of viruses. Biochim Biophys Acta 34:103–110PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brown F, Bishop DHL, Crick J, Francki RIB, Holland JJ, Hull R, Johnson KM, Martelli GP, Murphy FA, Obijeski JF, Peters D, Pringle CR, Reichmann ME, Schneider LG, Shope RE, Simpson DIH, Summers DF, Wagner RR (1979) Rhabdoviridae. Intervirology 12:1–17PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brown F (1986) The classification and nomenclature of viruses: summary of results of meetings of the ICTV in Sendai, 1984. Intervirology 25:141–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bruenn JA (1991) Relationship among the positive strand and double-strand RNA viruses as viewed through their RNA-dependent RNA polymerases. Nucl Acids Res 19: 217–225PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Brunt AA, Crabtree K, Gibbs AJ (eds) (1990) Viruses of Tropical Plants. C.A.B. International, London, pp 1–707Google Scholar
  16. Brunt AA, Crabtree K, Gibbs AJ, Watson L (eds) (1994) Viruses of Plants, 2 volumes. C.A.B. InternationalGoogle Scholar
  17. Buchen-Osmond C, Blaine LD, Gibbs AJ (1993) Towards a comprehensive virus data base. Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of Virology, Glasgow W76–1:116Google Scholar
  18. Buchen-Osmond C, Crabtree K, Gibbs AJ, McLean GD (eds) (1988) Viruses of Plants in Australia. Australian National University, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  19. Cooper PD, Agol VI, Bachrach HL, Brown F, Ghendon Y, Gibbs AJ, Gillespie JH, Lonberg-Holm K, Mandel B, Melnick JL, Mohanty SB, Povey RC, Rueckert RR, Schaffer FL, Tyrrell DAJ (1978) Picornaviridae: Second Report. Intervirology 10:165–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dallwitz MJ (1974) A flexible computer program for generating identification keys. Systematic Zoology 23: 50–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Daliwitz MJ (1980) A general system for coding taxonomic descriptions. Taxon 29: 41–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dallwitz MJ, Paine TA (1986) User’s guide to the DELTA system — a general system for processing taxonomic descriptions. Third Edn. CSIRO Aust Div Entomol Rep. 13:1–106Google Scholar
  23. Dolja VV, Carrington JC (1992) Evolution of positive-strand RNA viruses. Sem Virol 3: 315–326Google Scholar
  24. Dowdle WR, Davenport FM, Fukumi H, Schild GC, Tumova B, Webster RG, Zakstelskaja GE (1975) Orthomyxoviridae. Intervirology 5: 245–251PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Eigen M (1993) Viral quasispecies. Scientific American 269: 42–49PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fermer F (1974) The classification of viruses; why, when and how. Aust J Experimental Biol Med Sci 52:223–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fenner F (1976) The Classification and Nomenclature of Viruses. Second Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. Intervirology 7:1–115PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fenner F, Burnet FM (1957) A short description of the poxvirus group (vaccinia and related viruses). Virology 4: 305–310PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Francki RIB, Fauquet CM, Knudson DL, Brown F (1991) Classification and Nomenclature of Viruses. Fifth Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. Springer-Verlag, Wien, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  30. Gibbs AJ (1987) Molecular evolution of viruses: “trees, clocks and modules.” J Cell Sci, Supplementum 7: 319–337Google Scholar
  31. Gibbs AJ, Harrison BD (1966) Realistic approach to virus classification and nomenclature. Nature 218: 927–929CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gibbs AJ, Harrison BD, Watson DH, Wildy P (1966) What’s in a virus name? Nature 209: 450–454PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Goldbach R (1986) Molecular evolution of plant RNA viruses. Annu Rev Phytopathol 24: 289–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Goldbach R (1987) Genome similarities between plant and animal RNA viruses. Microbiol Sci 4:197–202PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Goldbach R, de Haan PT (1993) RNA viral supergroups and the evolution of RNA viruses. In: Morse SS (ed) The Evolutionary Biology of Viruses. Raven Press, New York, pp 105–119Google Scholar
  36. Goldbach R, Le Gall O, Wellink J (1991) Alpha-like viruses in plants. Sem Virol 2:19–25Google Scholar
  37. Goldbach R, Wellink J (1988) Evolution of plus-strand RNA viruses. Intervirology 29: 260–268PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Gust ID, Burrell CJ, Coulepis AG, Robinson WS, Zuckerman AJ (1986) Taxonomic classification of human hepatitis B virus. Intervirology 25:14–29PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Gust ID, Coulepis AG, Feinstone SM, Locarnini SA, Moritsugu Y, Najera R, Siegl G (1983) Taxonomic classification of hepatitis A virus. Intervirology 20:1–7PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Harrison BD, Finch JT, Gibbs AJ, Hollings M, Shepherd RJ, Valenta V, Wetter C (1966) Sixteen groups of plant viruses. Virology 45: 356–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Holland JJ, de la Torre JC, Steinhauer DA (1992) RNA virus populations as quasispecies. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol 176:1–20PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Holland JJ, Spindler K, Horodyski F, Grabau E, Nichol ST, van de Pol S (1982) Rapid evolution of RNA genomes. Science 215:1577–1585PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kamer G, Argos P (1984) Primary structural comparison of RNA-dependent polymerases from plant, animal and bacterial viruses. Nucl Acids Res 12: 7269–7282PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Karabatsos N (ed) (1985) International Catalogue of Arboviruses, Third Edn. American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, San Antonio, TexasGoogle Scholar
  45. Kiley MP, Bowen ETA, Eddy GA, Isaacson M, Johnson KM, Murphy FA, Pattyn SR, Peters D, Prozesky OW, Regnery RL, Simpson DIH, Slenczka W, Sureau P, van der Groen G, Webb PA (1982) Filoviridae: A taxonomic home for Marburg and Ebola viruses? Intervirology 18: 24–32PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Kingsbury DW (1988) Biological concepts in virus classification. Intervirology 29: 242–253PubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Kingsbury DW, Bratt MA, Choppin PW, Hanson RP, Hosaka Y, ter Meulen V, Norrby E, Plowright W, Rott R, Wunner WH (1978) Paramyxoviridae. Intervirology 10: 137–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Koonin EV (1991) The phylogeny of RNA-dependent RNA polymerases of positive-strand RNA viruses. J Gen Virol 72: 2197–2206PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Koonin EV (1992) Evolution of double-stranded RNA viruses: a case for polyphyletic origin from different groups of positive-stranded RNA viruses. Sem Virol 3: 327–339Google Scholar
  50. Koonin EV, Dolja VV (1993) Evolution and taxonomy of positive-strand RNA viruses: implications of comparative analysis of amino acid sequences. CRC Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol 28: 375–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Koonin EV, Gorbalenya AE (1989) Evolution of RNA genomes: does the high mutation rate necessitate a high rate of evolution of viral proteins? J Mol Evol 28: 524–527PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Lwoff A, Home RW, Tournier P (1962) A system of viruses. Cold Spring Harb Series Quant Biol 27: 51–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Mahy BW (1991) Related Viruses of the Plant and Animal Kingdoms. Sem Virol 2:1–77Google Scholar
  54. Matthews REF (ed) (1979) Classification and nomenclature of viruses. Third Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. Intervirology 12:132–296Google Scholar
  55. Matthews REF (ed) (1982) Classification and Nomenclature of Viruses. Fourth Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. Intervirology 17:1–199Google Scholar
  56. Matthews REF (ed) (1983) A Critical Appraisal of Viral Taxonomy. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FLGoogle Scholar
  57. Melnick JL, Allison AC, Butel JS, Eckhart W, Eddy BE, Kit S, Levine AJ, Miles JAR, Pagano JS, Sachs L, Vonka V (1974) Papovaviridae. Intervirology 3:106–120PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Morse SS (ed) (1993) The Evolutionary Biology of Viruses. Raven Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  59. Murphy FA (1995) Virus taxonomy. In: Fields BN, Knipe DM (eds) Fundamental Virology, Third Edn. Raven Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  60. Murphy FA (1983) Current problems in vertebrate virus taxonomy. In: Matthews REF (ed) A Critical Appraisal of Viral Taxonomy. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp 37–62Google Scholar
  61. Murphy FA (1985) Virus taxonomy. In: Fields BN, Knipe DM (eds) Fundamental Virology, First Edn. Raven Press, New York, pp 7–26Google Scholar
  62. Murphy FA (1987) Taxonomy of animal viruses. In: Nermut MV, Steven AC (eds) Animal Virus Structure. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 99–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Murphy FA (1988) Virus taxonomy and nomenclature. In: Lennette EH, Halonen P, Murphy FA (eds) Laboratory Diagnosis of Infectious Diseases, Principles and Practices, Vol II. Springer-Verlag, New York, pp 153–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Murphy FA, Kingsbury DW (1991) Virus taxonomy. In: Fields BN, Knipe DM (eds) Fundamental Virology, Second Edn. Raven Press, New York, pp 9–36Google Scholar
  65. Pankhurst RJ, Aitchison RR (1975) An on-line identification program. In: Pankhurst RJ (ed) Biological Identification with Computers. Academic Press, London, pp 181–185Google Scholar
  66. Partridge TR, Dallwitz MJ, Watson L (1988) A primer for the DELTA system on MS-DOS and VMS. 2nd edition. CSIRO Aust Div Entomol Rep. 38, 1–17Google Scholar
  67. Pfau CJ, Bergold GH, Casals J, Johnson KM, Murphy FA, Pedersen IR, Rawls WE, Rowe WP, Webb PA, Weissenbacher MC (1974) Arenaviridae. Intervirology 4: 207–218PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Porterfield JS, Casals J, Chumakov MP, Gaidamovich SY, Hanoun C, Holmes IH, Horzinek MC, Mussgay M, Oker Blom N, Russell PK, Trent DW (1978) Togaviridae. Intervirology 9:129–148PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Pringle CR (1991) The order Mononegavirales. Arch Virol 117:137–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Roizman B, Carmichael LE, Deinhardt F, de The G, Nahmias AJ, Plowright W, Rapp F, Sheldrick P, Takahashi M, Wolf K (1982) Herpesviridae. Definition, provisional nomenclature and taxonomy. Intervirology 16: 201–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Roizman B, Desrosiers RC, Fleckenstein B, Lopez C, Minson AC, Studdert MJ (1992) The family Herpesviridae: an update. Arch Virol 123: 425–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Schaffer FL, Bachrach HL, Brown F, Gillespie JH, Burroughs JN, Madin SH, Madeley CR, Povey RC, Scott F, Smith AW, Studdert MJ (1980) Caliciviridae. Intervirology 14:1–6PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Siddell SG, Anderson R, Cavanagh D, Fujiwara K, Klenk H-D, MacNaughton MR, Pensaert MB, Stohlman SA, Sturman L, van der Zeijst BAM (1983) Coronaviridae. Intervirology 20:181–190PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Siegl G, Bates RC, Berns KI, Carter BJ, Kelly DC, Kurstak E, Tattersall P (1985) Characteristics and Taxonomy of Parvoviridae. Intervirology 23: 61–73PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Strauss JH, Strauss EG (1988) Evolution of RNA viruses. Annu Rev Microbiol 42: 657–683PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Strauss JH, Strauss EG, Levine AJ (1991) Virus evolution. In: Fields BN, Knipe DM (eds) Fundamental Virology, second edn. Raven Press, New York, pp 167–190Google Scholar
  77. van Regenmortel MHV (1990) Virus species, a much overlooked but essential concept in virus classification. Intervirology 31:241–254PubMedGoogle Scholar
  78. Ward CW (1993) Progress towards a higher taxonomy of viruses. Res Virol 144: 419–453PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Waterson AP, Wilkinson L (eds) (1978) An Introduction to the History of Virology. Cambridge University Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  80. Westaway EG, Brinton MA, Gaidamovich SY, Horzinek MC, Igarashi A, Kääriäinen L, Lvov DK, Porterfield JS, Russell PK, Trent DW (1985) Flaviviridae. Intervirology 24:183–192PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Wigand R, Bartha A, Dreizin RS, Esche H, Ginsberg HS, Green M, Hierholzer JC, Kalter SS, McFerran JB, Pettersson U, Russell WC, Wadell G (1982) Adenoviridae: Second report. Intervirology 18:169–176PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Wildy P (1971) Classification and Nomenclature of Viruses. First Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. Monogr Virol 5:1–65Google Scholar
  83. Zimmern D (1988) Evolution of RNA viruses. In: Holland JJ, Domingo E, Ahlquist P (eds) RNA Genetics. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp 211–240Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frederick A. Murphy
    • 1
  • Claude M. Fauquet
    • 2
  • David H. L. Bishop
    • 3
  • Said A. Ghabrial
    • 4
  • Audrey W. Jarvis
    • 5
  • Giovanni P. Martelli
    • 6
  • Mike A. Mayo
    • 7
  • Max D. Summers
    • 8
  1. 1.School of Veterinary ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  2. 2.Division of Plant Biology-MRC7ORSTOM/The Scripps Research InstituteLa JollaUSA
  3. 3.Natural Environment Research SchoolInstitute of VirologyOxfordUK
  4. 4.Dept. of Plant PathologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  5. 5.New Zealand Dairy Research InstitutePalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  6. 6.Instituto di Patologia VegetaleBariItaly
  7. 7.Scottish Crop Research InstituteDundeeUK
  8. 8.Dept. of EntomologyTexas A & M UniversityCollege StationUSA

Personalised recommendations