Virology Division News
Virology Division News
Arch Virol 144/11 (1999)
Abbreviations for invertebrate 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 [1–3]. There is now a compelling case for extending these efforts to
embrace all viruses irrespective of their host organisms. 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. The accurate recovery of informa-
tion from databases is dependent on the existence of unique abbreviations for virus names,
since virus names may often only be registered in abbreviated form. In order to encourage the
standardization of abbreviations beyond the plant viruses, we have recently compiled a list of
the abbreviations of the vertebrate virus species names recommended by the International
Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) and contained in its Seventh Report . This
list of recommended abbreviations for vertebrate virus species names is intended as a
reference document to diminish the risk of duplication when new abbreviations are pro-
posed. It is our aim to extend this process of standardization of abbreviations to include all
virus species names approved by the ICTV. We now provide a list of abbreviations of
invertebrate virus species names. Table 1 includes all the ICTV recommended abbreviations
of approved invertebrate virus species names, arranged according to genome type and
family. The abbreviations listed in Table 1 are limited to the names of ratified virus species.
The names of tentative species, serotypes, strains and other categories have been excluded.
The immediate aim is to devise a catalogue of unique abbreviations for virus species. Some
ambiguity can be tolerated in the assignment of abbreviations to categories below the species
level, provided that these abbreviations do not conflict with abbreviations asssigned to
species. The list in Table 1 is presented as a starting point for the progressive development of
a system of unambiguous abbreviations of the names of invertebrate virus species.
There are now some 4,000 virus names listed by the ICTV and without some conven-
tions it will become increasingly difficult to devise unique abbreviations for every virus.
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 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 publications.