A proposal to rationalize within-species plant virus nomenclature: benefits and implications of inaction

Roger A.C. Jones, M.A. Kehoe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016, Springer-Verlag Wien.Current approaches used to name within-species, plant virus phylogenetic groups are often misleading and illogical. They involve names based on biological properties, sequence differences and geographical, country or place-association designations, or any combination of these. This type of nomenclature is becoming increasingly unsustainable as numbers of sequences of the same virus from new host species and different parts of the world increase. Moreover, this increase is accelerating as world trade and agriculture expand, and climate change progresses. Serious consequences for virus research and disease management might arise from incorrect assumptions made when current within-species phylogenetic group names incorrectly identify properties of group members. This could result in development of molecular tools that incorrectly target dangerous virus strains, potentially leading to unjustified impediments to international trade or failure to prevent such strains being introduced to countries, regions or continents formerly free of them. Dangerous strains might be missed or misdiagnosed by diagnostic laboratories and monitoring programs, and new cultivars with incorrect strain-specific resistances released. Incorrect deductions are possible during phylogenetic analysis of plant virus sequences and errors from strain misidentification during molecular and biological virus research activities. A nomenclature system for within-species plant virus phylogenetic group names is needed which avoids such problems. We suggest replacing all other naming approaches with Latinized numerals, restricting biologically based names only to biological strains and removing geographically based names altogether. Our recommendations have implications for biosecurity authorities, diagnostic laboratories, disease-management programs, plant breeders and researchers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2051-2057
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Virology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


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