A World of Viruses: Exploding Diversity and Its Impact on Classification

A Satellite Symposium at the 37th Annual American Society for Virology Meeting

July 2018

The American Society for Virology's 37th Annual meeting, held at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, featured a Satellite Symposium entitled “A World of Viruses: Exploding Diversity and Its Impact on Classification.” This symposium took place on July 14, 2018, and was co-organized and hosted by Robert Harrison (USDA) and Max Nibert (Harvard Medical School), who are current members of both the ASV and the ICTV Executive Committee.

The symposium consisted of presentations touching upon the accelerated rate of new virus discovery stemming from advances in high-throughput sequencing technologies, and addressed a variety of issues that the resulting explosion in virus diversity has created for virus classification. The presentations included examples of virus discovery in metagenomic data sets and among different classes of viruses, new approaches to virus classification, horizontal gene transfer as a complicating factor, and the recent and ongoing efforts by the ICTV to keep pace with rapidly expanding virus diversity.
The speakers included the following experts in virus taxonomy and diversity who are also current or former members of the ICTV Executive Committee:

  • Stuart Siddell, University of Bristol: “The ICTV: Challenges and Changes”
  • Mya Breitbart, University of South Florida: “Welcome to the Jungle: Wild Viruses Bend the Bars of Taxonomic Cages”
  • Sandra Junglen, Universitätsmedizin Berlin: ”Novel Insights into the Diversity of Insect-Associated Viruses”
  • Arvind Varsani, Arizona State University: “Small Circular DNA Viruses: The Muddy Viral ‘Playground’ of Recombinant, Reassortant, and Highly Diverse Viruses”
  • Arcady Mushegian, National Science Foundation: “What is Rare, What is Not So Rare, and What is Rampant in Horizontal Gene Transfer”
  • Helene Sanfaçon, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: “Horizontal Gene Transmission as a Driving Force of Plant RNA Virus Evolution: Selected Examples and Associated Challenges with Virus Classification Schemes”
  • Peter Simmonds, University of Oxford: “The Genomic Underpinnings of Eukaryotic Virus Taxonomy—Creating a Sequence-Based Framework for Family-Level Virus Classification”
  • Mart Krupovic, Institut Pasteur: “A Capsidocentric View on Virus Diversity, Evolution, and Classification”
  • Jens Kuhn, National Institutes of Health/NIAID: “TaxoProps—A Tutorial on Writing Well-Crafted and Concise Taxonomic Proposals”