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Imbroglios of Viral Taxonomy: Genetic Exchange and Failings of Phenetic Approaches.

Lawrence, Jeffrey G and Hatfull, Graham F and Hendrix, Roger W (2002) Imbroglios of Viral Taxonomy: Genetic Exchange and Failings of Phenetic Approaches. Journal of bacteriology, 184 (17). 4891 - 4905. ISSN 0021-9193

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The practice of classifying organisms into hierarchical groups originated with Aristotle and was codified into nearly immutable biological law by Linnaeus. The heart of taxonomy is the biological species, which forms the foundation for higher levels of classification. Whereas species have long been established among sexual eukaryotes, achieving a meaningful species concept for prokaryotes has been an onerous task and has proven exceedingly difficult for describing viruses and bacteriophages. Moreover, the assembly of viral "species" into higher-order taxonomic groupings has been even more tenuous, since these groupings were based initially on limited numbers of morphological features and more recently on overall genomic similarities. The wealth of nucleotide sequence information that catalyzed a revolution in the taxonomy of free-living organisms necessitates a reevaluation of the concept of viral species, genera, families, and higher levels of classification. Just as microbiologists discarded dubious morphological traits in favor of more accurate molecular yardsticks of evolutionary change, virologists can gain new insight into viral evolution through the rigorous analyses afforded by the molecular phylogenetics of viral genes. For bacteriophages, such dissections of genomic sequences reveal fundamental flaws in the Linnaean paradigm that necessitate a new view of viral evolution, classification, and taxonomy.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Lawrence, Jeffrey G
Hatfull, Graham Fgfh@pitt.eduGFH
Hendrix, Roger W
Date: September 2002
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of bacteriology
Volume: 184
Number: 17
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
Page Range: 4891 - 4905
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1128/jb.184.17.4891-4905
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Biological Sciences
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0021-9193
Article Type: Research Article
MeSH Headings: Bacteriophages--classification; Bacteriophages--genetics; Biological Evolution; Gene Transfer, Horizontal; Mosaicism; Recombination, Genetic
Other ID: NLM PMC135278
PubMed Central ID: PMC135278
PubMed ID: 12169615
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2012 21:03
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2022 13:14


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