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J Virol. 2012 Apr;86(7):3905-15. PubMed; doi 10.1128/JVI.07174-11

Toward genetics-based virus taxonomy: comparative analysis of a genetics-based classification and the taxonomy of picornaviruses.

Lauber, C.; Gorbalenya, A. E.

Virus taxonomy has received little attention from the research community despite its broad relevance. In an accompanying paper (C. Lauber and A. E. Gorbalenya, J. Virol. 86:3890-3904, 2012), we have introduced a quantitative approach to hierarchically classify viruses of a family using pairwise evolutionary distances (PEDs) as a measure of genetic divergence. When applied to the six most conserved proteins of the Picornaviridae, it clustered 1,234 genome sequences in groups at three hierarchical levels (to which we refer as the "GENETIC classification"). In this study, we compare the GENETIC classification with the expert-based picornavirus taxonomy and outline differences in the underlying frameworks regarding the relation of virus groups and genetic diversity that represent, respectively, the structure and content of a classification. To facilitate the analysis, we introduce two novel diagrams. The first connects the genetic diversity of taxa to both the PED distribution and the phylogeny of picornaviruses. The second depicts a classification and the accommodated genetic diversity in a standardized manner. Generally, we found striking agreement between the two classifications on species and genus taxa. A few disagreements concern the species Human rhinovirus A and Human rhinovirus C and the genus Aphthovirus, which were split in the GENETIC classification. Furthermore, we propose a new supergenus level and universal, level-specific PED thresholds, not reached yet by many taxa. Since the species threshold is approached mostly by taxa with large sampling sizes and those infecting multiple hosts, it may represent an upper limit on divergence, beyond which homologous recombination in the six most conserved genes between two picornaviruses might not give viable progeny.


  Московский Государственный Университет имени М.В.Ломоносова

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