EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 12 - 1999 Num. article: 1999/187

Virus nomenclature

In all its publications, including in particular the two editions of Quarantine Pests for Europe, EPPO has regularly followed the system of plant virus nomenclature in which the official scientific name of a virus is taken to be in the English language, composed of 3 consecutive elements: a word or words identifying a host plant, a set of descriptive words, and the word "virus" or, if the virus has been assigned to a genus, the name of the genus. Thus, in a simple example, plum pox potyvirus, or in more complex ones, black raspberry latent ilarvirus, or beet necrotic yellow vein benyvirus. This system has also been followed in particular by the international VIDE datebase on plant viruses, the authoritative text Viruses of Plants by Brunt et al., and the indexes of Review of Plant Pathology.

The ICTV (International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses) has recently adopted new proposals on the nomenclature of plant viruses. These include detailed specifications on the use of capital letters and italics, which are of secondary importance to EPPO. Their principal feature of concern to EPPO is that they do not admit the system by which the genus name forms part of the scientific name of the virus. The whole issue remains subject to considerable international controversy, and EPPO, believing above all that it is extremely useful for the scientific name of a virus to include its genus (as is of course the case for organisms generally), intends to continue using its existing convention for plant virus nomenclature.


EPPO Secretariat, 1999-11