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    The taxonomy of viruses is developed and overseen by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV), which scrutinizes, approves and ratifies taxonomic proposals, and maintains a list of virus taxa with approved names ( The ICTV has approximately 180 members who vote by simple majority. Taxon-specific Study Groups established by the ICTV have a combined membership of over 600 scientists from the wider virology community; they provide comprehensive expertise across the range of known viruses and are major contributors to the creation and evaluation of taxonomic proposals. Proposals can be submitted by anyone and will be considered by the ICTV irrespective of Study Group support. Thus, virus taxonomy is developed from within the virology community and realized by a democratic decision-making process. The ICTV upholds the distinction between a virus or replicating genetic element as a physical entity and the taxon category to which it is assigned. This is reflected by the nomenclature of the virus species taxon, which is now mandated by the ICTV to be in a binomial format (genus + species epithet) and is typographically distinct from the names of viruses. Classification of viruses below the rank of species (such as, genotypes or strains) is not within the remit of the ICTV. This article, authored by the ICTV Executive Committee, explains the principles of virus taxonomy and the organization, function, processes and resources of the ICTV, with the aim of encouraging greater understanding and interaction among the wider virology community.


    Stuart G Siddell, Donald B Smith, Evelien Adriaenssens, Poliane Alfenas-Zerbini, Bas E Dutilh, Maria Laura Garcia, Sandra Junglen, Mart Krupovic, Jens H Kuhn, Amy J Lambert, Elliot J Lefkowitz, Małgorzata Łobocka, Arcady R Mushegian, Hanna M Oksanen, David L Robertson, Luisa Rubino, Sead Sabanadzovic, Peter Simmonds, Nobuhiro Suzuki, Koenraad Van Doorslaer, Anne-Mieke Vandamme, Arvind Varsani, F Murilo Zerbini. Virus taxonomy and the role of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV). The Journal of general virology. 2023 May;104(5)

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    PMID: 37141106

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