Virus classification

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Virus classification is the process of naming viruses and placing them into a taxonomic system. Similar to the classification systems used for cellular organisms, virus classification is the subject of ongoing debate and proposals. This is mainly due to the pseudo-living nature of viruses, which are not yet definitively classified as living or non-living. As such, they do not fit neatly into the established biological classification system in place for cellular organisms.

Viruses are mainly classified by phenotypic characteristics, such as morphology, nucleic acid type, mode of replication, host organisms, and the type of disease they cause. Currently there are two main schemes used for the classification of viruses: the ICTV system and Baltimore classification system, which places viruses into one of seven groups. Accompanying this broad method of classification are specific naming conventions and further classification guidelines set out by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.

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ICTV classification

The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses began to devise and implement rules for the naming and classification of viruses early in the 1990s, an effort that continues to the present day. The ICTV is the only body charged by the International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS) with the task of developing, refining, and maintaining a universal virus taxonomy. The system shares many features with the classification system of cellular organisms, such as taxon structure. Viral classification starts at the level of order and follows as thus, with the taxon suffixes given in italics:

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