Virology Division News
Virology Division News
Arch Virol 145/1 (2000)
Abbreviations for bacterial and fungal virus species names
C. M. Fauquet
and C. R. Pringle
ILTAB/Danforth Plant Science Center, University of Missouri, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.
Biological Sciences Department, University of Warwick, Coventry, U.K.
Plant virologists have taken the initiative in the development of a standardized system of
abbreviation of virus names in response to the particular problems associated with the
naming of plant viruses [1, 2, 5]. There is now a compelling case for extending these efforts
to embrace all viruses irrespective of their hosts. Increasing awareness of the diversity of
viruses and greater reliance on storage of information in electronic databases call for
standardization of abbreviations to avoid ambiguity.
To extend this process, we have previously compiled lists of abbreviations of the
names of the currently recognized species of viruses that infect invertebrate or vertebrate
organisms [3, 4]. To complete this process we are now presenting lists of abbreviations of
the names of the currently recognized species of viruses that infect bacteria or fungi, as
recorded in the 7th Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV)
. The lists of abbreviations for bacterial, fungal, invertebrate and vertebrate viruses differ
from the list of abbreviations for plant viruses in that they are restricted to approved species
names and exclude tentative names and synonyms.
A total of 1,550 individual virus species are recognized by the ICTV, and are listed in
the 7th Report . Ninety of these species are of viruses that infect bacteria and another
seventy-five are of viruses that infect fungi. These lists of recommended abbreviations for
bacterial and fungal virus species names are being published as a reference document to
reduce the risk of duplication when new abbreviations for virus names are proposed.
Although the ICTV is responsible for controlling, approving and recording the names of
virus taxa, and has a formal International Code  that guides this activity, it has no
constitutional responsibility for assigning abbreviations. Nonetheless it does assign in its
Reports (e.g. ) a recommended abbreviation for every virus name. It is obviously a
desirable aim that a standard abbreviation should be used for any particular virus in all
Three principles have governed the assignment of abbreviations for the names of
viruses that infect plants, invertebrates or vertebrates. These principles are that the abbrevi-
ations should be the simplest possible, that an abbreviation must not duplicate any other
abbreviation previously assigned and that is still in current usage; and that the word “virus”
in a name is abbreviated as “V”. Plant virologists have compiled guidelines  that indicate