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Virology Division News

Arch Virol 145/2 (2000)


Virology Division News

Constructing and writing the names of virus species

an editorial note
M. A. Mayo
Scottish Crop Research Institute, Dundee, U.K.

How the names of virus species are constructed and written has recently been the subject of
articles in this section of Archives of Virology. These have been either critical [1], or
supportive [5, 6], of the procedures currently used by the International Committee on
Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) [4]. Dr. Bos has followed up his critical comments [1] with a
further response [2]. It, and further comments by Dr. Van Regenmortel [7], are presented
following this introductory note.
How ICTV operates, and the procedures it uses, are controlled by Statutes [4] that are
agreed by its parent body, IUMS Virology Division, and by an International Code of Virus
Classification and Nomenclature [3]. Nevertheless, the subject of how virus taxon names
are written is a live issue that comes up in most meetings of the ICTV Executive
Committee. And it is an important one, certainly as judged by the number of virologists
who have been moved to make their opinions known to the ICTV in recent months.
Therefore publication of a second round of the debate about the current orthographic
conventions for virus taxa is useful. However, after this publication, the arguments will
have been well rehearsed in the previous [1, 5, 6] and the current [2,7] papers, and the issue
has as a result been very thoroughly aired. I therefore propose to close the debate in the
Virology Division News section of Archives of Virology after the publication of the two
papers that follow this note.
It is important to add that ICTV Rules and procedures allow for all virologists to make
proposals to ICTV for changes to Rules as well as to taxonomy [3]. The representative
structure of ICTV is constructed so as to sound out opinions from many virologists of
diverse backgrounds and specialisms on whatever legitimate proposals are made [4, 8].
1. Bos L (1999) The naming of viruses: an urgent call to order. Arch Virol 144: 631636
2. Bos L (2000) Structure and typography of virus names. Arch Virol 145: 429432
3. Mayo MA, Horzinek MC (1998) A revised version of the International Code of Virus Classification and
Nomenclature. Arch Virol 143: 16451654
4. Mayo MA, Pringle CR (1998) Virus taxonomy 1997. J Gen Virol 79: 649657
5. Pringle CR (1999) Editorial Virus Nomenclature. Arch Virol 144: 14631466
6. Van Regenmortel MHV (1999) How to write the names of virus species. Arch Virol 144: 10411042


Virology Division News

7. Van Regenmortel MHV (2000) On the relative merits of italics, Latin and binomial nomenclature in virus
taxonomy. Arch Virol 145: 433441
8. Van Regenmortel MHV, Fauquet CM, Bishop DHL, Carstens EB, Estes MK, Lemon SM, McGeoch DJ,
Maniloff J, Mayo MA, Pringle CR, Wickner RB (2000) Seventh ICTV Report. Academic Press, New York,
San Diego (in press)
Authors address: Dr. M. A. Mayo, Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee DD2 5DA, U.K.