How Viruses are Classified

How Viruses are Classified

Virologists are concerned with the study and classification of viruses into their distinctive groups and classes. This involves an analysis of the body morphology, classification, and their modes of infection. When viruses were first discovered at the beginning, there was no proper system for naming them. Thus, they were named haphazardly. However, following the creation and institutionalization of the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV), there has been a standardized system of naming and classifying viruses. ICTV is charged with the mandate of developing virus nomenclature that virologists rely on in classifying the viruses. It is worth noting that, in ranking the viruses, the families and generic names are not used, but group names are used instead. The viral genome is significant for virologists in naming viruses since it is from the genome that the blueprint for new viruses is obtained.

The most common method of classification of viruses involves grouping viruses based on their properties. Additionally, the virologists also rely on the genetic composition of the virus’s nucleic acid as the basic foundation of classifying viruses. Virologists postulate that there are four distinct characteristics for classifying viruses: the nature of the nucleic acid, the symmetry of the protein cell, whether or not a lipid membrane is present in a virus, and the dimensions of the capsids and/or virion. Additionally, the type of diseases caused is another inclusion that virologists utilize in classifying viruses. However, following the development of nucleic acid sequencing method, virologists rely on this novel technology in classifying viruses.

References

Advances in Virus Research (2018). Virus classification. Advances in Virus Research