Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Virus classification

It involves naming and placing viruses into a taxonomic system. Like the comparatively consistent classification systems seen for cellular organisms, virus classification is the subject of ongoing debate and proposal. This is mainly due to the pseudo-living nature of viruses, which are not yet definitively living or non-living. As such, they do not fit neatly into the recognized biological classification system in place for cellular organisms, such as plants and animals.

Virus classification is based chiefly on phenotypic characteristics, including morphology, nucleic acid type, and mode of replication, host organisms, and the kind of disease they cause. A mixture of two main schemes is currently in widespread use for the classification of viruses. David Baltimore, a Nobel Prize-winning biologist, devised the Baltimore classification system, which places viruses into one of seven groups. These groups are designated by Roman numerals and separate viruses based on their mode of replication, and genome type. Accompanying this broad method of classification are exact naming conventions and further classification strategy set out by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.

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