2013

Archives of Virology, December 2013, Volume 158, Issue 12, pp 2633-2639. PMID 23836393
Kuhn JH, Bekal S, Caì Y, Clawson AN, Domier LL, Herrel M, Jahrling PB, Kondo H, Lambert KN, Mihindukulasuriya KA, Nowotny N, Radoshitzky SR, Schneider U, Staeheli P, Suzuki N, Tesh RB, Wang D, Wang LF, Dietzgen RG.
Nyamanini virus (NYMV) and Midway virus (MIDWV) are unclassified tick-borne agents that infect land birds and seabirds, respectively. The recent molecular characterization of both viruses confirmed their already known close serological relationship and revealed them to be nonsegmented, single- and negative-stranded RNA viruses that are clearly related to, but quite distinct from, members of the order Mononegavirales (bornaviruses, filoviruses, paramyxoviruses, and rhabdoviruses). A third agent, soybean cyst nematode virus 1 (SbCNV-1, previously named soybean cyst nematode nyavirus), was recently found to be an additional member of this new virus group. Here, we review the current knowledge about all three viruses and propose classifying them as members of a new mononegaviral family, Nyamiviridae.
Archives of Virology, October 2013, Volume 158, Issue 10, pp 2209-2226. PMID 23636404
 
The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) is responsible for the classification of viruses into taxa. Importantly, the ICTV is currently not responsible for the nomenclature of viruses or their subclassification into strains, lineages, or genotypes. ICTV rules for classification of viruses and nomenclature of taxa are laid out in a code, the International Code of Virus Classification and Nomenclature (ICVCN). The most recent version of the Code makes it difficult for the unfamiliar reader to distinguish between viruses and taxa, thereby often giving the impression that certain Rules apply to viruses. Here, Code text changes are proposed to address this problem.
Archives of Virology, July 2013, Volume 158, Issue 7, pp 1621-1629
 
The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) organizes the classification of viruses into taxa, but is not responsible for the nomenclature for taxa members. International experts groups, such as the ICTV Study Groups, recommend the classification and naming of viruses and their strains, variants, and isolates. The ICTV Filoviridae Study Group has recently introduced an updated classification and nomenclature for filoviruses. Subsequently, and together with numerous other filovirus experts, a consistent nomenclature for their natural genetic variants and isolates was developed that aims at simplifying the retrieval of sequence data from electronic databases. This is a first important step toward a viral genome annotation standard as sought by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Here, this work is extended to include filoviruses obtained in the laboratory by artificial selection through passage in laboratory hosts. The previously developed template for natural filovirus genetic variant naming (<virus name> <isolation host-suffix>/<country of sampling>/ <year of sampling>/<genetic variant designation>-<isolate designation>) is retained, but it is proposed to adapt the type of information added to each field for laboratory animal-adapted variants. For instance, the full-length designation of an Ebola virus Mayinga variant adapted at the State Research Center for Virology and Biotechnology “Vector” to cause disease in guinea pigs after seven passages would be akin to “Ebola virus VECTOR/C.porcellus-lab/COD/1976/Mayinga-GPA-P7”. As was proposed for the names of natural filovirus variants, we suggest using the full-length designation in databases, as well as in the method section of publications. Shortened designations (such as “EBOV VECTOR/C.por/COD/76/May-GPA-P7”) and abbreviations (such as “EBOV/May-GPA-P7”) could be used in the remainder of the text depending on how critical it is to convey information contained in the full-length name. “EBOV” would suffice if only one EBOV strain/variant/isolate is addressed.
Archives of Virology, June 2013, Volume 158, Issue 6, pp 1425-1432
 
Recent advances in the ease with which the genomes of small circular single-stranded DNA viruses can be amplified, cloned, and sequenced have greatly accelerated the rate at which full genome sequences of mastreviruses (family Geminiviridae, genus Mastrevirus) are being deposited in public sequence databases. Although guidelines currently exist for species-level classification of newly determined, complete mastrevirus genome sequences, these are difficult to apply to large sequence datasets and are permissive enough that, effectively, a high degree of leeway exists for the proposal of new species and strains. The lack of a standardised and rigorous method for testing whether a new genome sequence deserves such a classification is resulting in increasing numbers of questionable mastrevirus species proposals. Importantly, the recommended sequence alignment and pairwise identity calculation protocols of the current guidelines could easily be modified to make the classification of newly determined mastrevirus genome sequences significantly more objective. Here, we propose modified versions of these protocols that should substantially minimise the degree of classification inconsistency that is permissible under the current system. To facilitate the objective application of these guidelines for mastrevirus species demarcation, we additionally present a user-friendly computer program, SDT (species demarcation tool), for calculating and graphically displaying pairwise genome identity scores. We apply SDT to the 939 full genome sequences of mastreviruses that were publically available in May 2012, and based on the distribution of pairwise identity scores yielded by our protocol, we propose mastrevirus species and strain demarcation thresholds of >78 % and >94 % identity, respectively.
Archives of Virology, June 2013, Volume 158, Issue 6, pp 1411-1424
 
The Executive Committee of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) has recently decided to modify the current definition of virus species (Code of Virus Classification and Nomenclature Rule 3.21) and will soon ask the full ICTV membership (189 voting members) to ratify the proposed controversial change. In this discussion paper, 14 senior virologists, including six Life members of the ICTV, compare the present and proposed new definition and recommend that the existing definition of virus species should be retained. Since the pros and cons of the proposal posted on the ICTV website are not widely consulted, the arguments are summarized here in order to reach a wider audience.
Archives of Virology, May 2013, Volume 158, Issue 5, pp 1115-1119
 
The family "Marseilleviridae" is a new proposed taxon for giant viruses that infect amoebae. Its first member, Acanthamoeba polyphagamarseillevirus (APMaV), was isolated in 2007 by culturing on amoebae a water sample collected from a cooling tower in Paris, France. APMaV has an icosahedral shape with a diameter of ≈250 nm. Its genome is a double-stranded circular DNA that is 368,454 base pairs (bp) in length. The genome has a GC content of 44.7 % and is predicted to encode 457 proteins. Phylogenetic reconstructions showed that APMaV belongs to a new viral family among nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses, a group of viruses that also includes Acanthamoeba polyphaga mimivirus (APMV) and the other members of the family Mimiviridae as well as the members of the families PoxviridaePhycodnaviridaeIridoviridaeAscoviridae, and Asfarviridae. In 2011, Acanthamoeba castellanii lausannevirus (ACLaV), another close relative of APMaV, was isolated from river water in France. The ACLaV genome is 346,754 bp in size and encodes 450 genes, among which 320 have an APMaV protein as the closest homolog. Two other giant viruses closely related to APMaV and ACLaV have been recovered in our laboratory from a freshwater sample and a human stool sample using an amoebal co-culture method. The only currently identified hosts for “marseilleviruses” are Acanthamoebaspp. The prevalence of these viruses in the environment and in animals and humans remains to be determined.
Archives of Virology, April 2013, Volume 158, Issue 4, pp 915-920
 
The task of international expert groups is to recommend the classification and naming of viruses. The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses Filoviridae Study Group and other experts have recently established an almost consistent classification and nomenclature for filoviruses. Here, further guidelines are suggested to include their natural genetic variants. First, this term is defined. Second, a template for full-length virus names (such as “Ebola virus H.sapiens-tc/COD/1995/Kikwit-9510621”) is proposed. These names contain information on the identity of the virus (e.g., Ebola virus), isolation host (e.g., members of the species Homo sapiens), sampling location (e.g., Democratic Republic of the Congo (COD)), sampling year, genetic variant (e.g., Kikwit), and isolate (e.g., 9510621). Suffixes are proposed for individual names that clarify whether a given genetic variant has been characterized based on passage zero material (-wt), has been passaged in tissue/cell culture (-tc), is known from consensus sequence fragments only (-frag), or does (most likely) not exist anymore (-hist). We suggest that these comprehensive names are to be used specifically in the methods section of publications. Suitable abbreviations, also proposed here, could then be used throughout the text, while the full names could be used again in phylograms, tables, or figures if the contained information aids the interpretation of presented data. The proposed system is very similar to the well-known influenzavirus nomenclature and the nomenclature recently proposed for rotaviruses. If applied consistently, it would considerably simplify retrieval of sequence data from electronic databases and be a first important step toward a viral genome annotation standard as sought by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Furthermore, adoption of this nomenclature would increase the general understanding of filovirus-related publications and presentations and improve figures such as phylograms, alignments, and diagrams. Most importantly, it would counter the increasing confusion in genetic variant naming due to the identification of ever more sequences through technological breakthroughs in high-throughput sequencing and environmental sampling.
Archives of Virology, January 2013, Volume 158, Issue 1, pp 301-311
 
It is proposed to delete Rule 3.41 of the International Code of Virus Classification and Nomenclature, which requires the name of a virus taxon to precede the term for the taxonomic unit.
Archives of Virology, January 2013, Volume 158, Issue 1, pp 297-299