How to use the ICTV Report to find information about a virus
Prepared and narrated by Stuart Siddell, ICTV Vice President, 2022
As well as organising the taxonomy of viruses, the ICTV organises study groups that are tasked with producing a Report on each family of viruses.
The first step, is to go to the ICTV website, which can be reached at ictv.global
Once you reach the homepage, select the Report tab, scroll down to current report chapters, and choose the Chapter list: Text option.
On this page, Report chapters are organised alphabetically according to genome type. For example, double-stranded DNA viruses, single-stranded DNA viruses, positive-sense RNA viruses and negative-sense RNA viruses.
So, for example, the insect viruses in the family Baculoviridae have a double-stranded DNA genome and the Report chapter is found in the first section.
On the family page, the column at the left side shows the taxonomic structure of the family, and you can click here to go directly to the page for each subfamily or genus.
The family page begins with a summary of the properties of viruses in the family and a table summarising the key features.
This is followed by a set of standard sections that describe the nature of the genome and the protein, lipid, and carbohydrate components of the virion particles.
This is followed by the genome organisation and virus replication, virus biology and the derivation of taxonomic names and virus names.
The final sections describe the criteria used to demarcate subsidiary taxa and the relationship of viruses within the family and to other families of viruses.
Subfamily and genus pages are laid out in a similar way. But they end with a member species table, with details of the viruses in the species assigned to the genus.
An important resource provided by the Report are phylogenetic trees that show the relationship of different viruses in the family. The alignments used to make these trees, along with the raw tree file can be downloaded from the Resources page at the bottom of the left-hand column.
If you want to cite a Report chapter for a particular virus family, the best way to do this is NOT to use the webpage, but to cite the two-page Virus Taxonomy Profile published in the Journal of General Virology. There is a link to this profile at the top of the family page
At the moment, the online Report does not cover all virus families – you can get taxonomic information about those other families from the Taxonomy Browser, the Master Species List, the Virus Metadata Resource, and also by reading the taxonomic proposals for these taxa. You can also read the 2011 ICTV Report chapters, although note that taxonomic and biological details there will often be out of date.
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