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Prions do not belong in the discussion of viruses, period. Indeed, they really do not belong on Wikispecies any more than, say, methylated DNA does. Prions represent infectious protein particles that induce conformational changes in extant proteins of the same or similar type. They are just biochemical artifacts.--Centinel 02:27, 27 July 2006 (UTC)Reply

Ahh, I would not feel so confident. For example Viroids also respresent infectious RNA particles that induce sickness. Just biochemical artifcats? Or Retrotransposons (from which, as some think, Retroviruses may have evolved). You see, as always in science, there are not many "It's like this and that, period."-sentences. No offense! I agree that prions should not be listed here. --Lode 13:04, 29 August 2006 (UTC)Reply
Ahh as well. The first post in this section reflects the sort of confusion that goes on when something is first recognized as existing, but it has not been well enough understood to be properly classified. See the recent (failed) attemps to redifine the wandering stars. Why, specifically, do you make a distinction between say methylated DNA, or autocatalyzing RNA, or prions, and proper life?! Isn't life itself merely 'biochemical artifacts' from an age before life? I write software, and am a functionalist/behavioralist. If the Chinese Room speaks Chinese, then it's as good as a part of the brain that speaks Chinese. No distinction can be drawn functionally, so it is a high fidelity analog implemented in a different medium. Of course, my definitions of artificial life are quite tolerant as well. But still, what is so different from an 'infectious protein particle' and an infectious viral particle? An order of magnitude of genetic infromation maybe, down from a few kB to a few hundred peptides? Look up subsets. Also, do religions and other computer viruses belong in this section, or should non-chemical/informational life be separated out the way that non-genetic life has been proposed to be separated out? Enjoy! Fisherted1 07:20, 15 September 2006 (UTC)Reply

He has a point and with the right point of view many less considered things could be considered life aswell ie: the internet?


Is anyone planning on starting the taxonomy of viruses? I suggest doing it according to the order-family-genera-species format specified by the ICTV or perhaps by types of nucleic acids (genome sequence) as I cannot locate any other feasable nomenclature.

The above by:

  • I thik that the Baltimore classification is the most resonable one, since virus are more or less just a nucleic acid.

Moreover, new taxonomies are classifing also other kindoms(including animals) using molecular parameters.

Separate Kingdom?[edit]

The article currently (as of 2005-04-04) mentions: "the debate on whether or not viruses, if living, require a kingdom of their own". Is this serious? To me (as a layman) it appears obvious that IF viruses live, then they obviously need a kingdom of their own, as they do not at all fit anywhere else. Could anybody who knows more about this perhaps correct that sentence and then delete this entry here? (Or delete it only if it is nonsense). Thanks. LutzPrechelt 09:10, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I believe they mean to say whether they deserve a kingdom of their own or no kingdom at all. I don't think anyone would suggest that they be grouped with another kingdom.-- 01:30, 29 July 2005 (UTC)Reply

Changes made[edit]

I made a few minor alterations to the article. I cleaned up the language in a few places and I also tried to remove some of the language where the classification of virus as life was implicit. Just wanted to make the artcle read more as commentary on that debate rather than taking a stance when that issue is discussed. I also added a few more links (including some that aren't yet to articles). Hope I wasn't out of line with any of the changes.

About Nanotechnology[edit]

I think the discussion about nanotechnology is far-fetched. I could agree that "Viruses could at least theoretically also be classified as nanomachines.", but then how will molecules, bacteria and pretty much anything not be nanomachines too? The purpose of classification is to make things searchable and to reveal parenthood. Considering viruses as nanomachines in the context of a taxonomy of Life does no good. We may as well say that plants are machines -- this is not going to help.

Also, the following is nonsense: "Nanotechnology also corresponds to the Darwinian principle of survival of the fittest and in that sense could be categorized as life." Everything is subject to the principles of evolution. And the author is aware of this: "even the creation of molecules from atoms may follow the principle of natural selection". Moreover, while the most eagerly awaited nanomachines are the self-replicating kind, there is nothing more Darwinian in nanomachines per se than in, say, regular machines.

But, more importantly, the whole paragraph is a discussion, not a description. As such, it is inappropriate in Wikispecies articles.

I've removed the paragraph about nanotechnology. BTW: Please sign you "talk" posts with ~~~~. Thanks. - UtherSRG 11:31, 22 July 2005 (UTC)Reply


I think this project needs a definative agreement as to what "life" is. If this is resolved then many ifs will become superfluous. I'm a newbie to this Wikiproject, so please excuse me if this is already taken care of.-- 01:33, 29 July 2005 (UTC)Reply

I forget the whole list, but one of the definitions of life is metabolism, which a virus cannot do --Poleary 16:23, 20 August 2005 (UTC)Reply
Well, even among the experts, the characteristics all living things must posses has never been agreed upon. Depends on what authority you consult. The list may be five criteria, or as many as eight. Some are easily agreed upon (e.g. reproduction - the ability to spawn progeny). Some less so. The reality is that classification into neat, discrete groups is a human invention - not a natural one. We categorized to understand - but nature could care less. When you draw a line in the sand and start saying, "This item goes here and that one there." Ineveitably you pick-up when in which you're just not quite sure where it goes - the gray area - so then you create a new category. That's the analog, natural world which is why Bart Kosko said "Everything is a matter of degree." So wasting energy deciding if a virus is living or not is a fruitless exercise - what's next, prions? If most people agree they are important enough to include here and classify - then do it, and that's all you need. Railgun 16:17, 18 December 2005 (UTC)Reply
Does anyone remember the seven life processes from their school days? They are processes that all living things undergo, and are therefore a definition of life. If something does all seven, it is undoubtably alive.
  • Movement
  • Reproduction
  • Sensitivity
  • Nutrition
  • Excretion
  • Respiration
  • Growth
Viruses only really do one of these - reproduction - and even that, they cannot do on their own, requiring a host organism. Therefore, that cannot be considered as alive. 17:17, 3 January 2006 (UTC)Reply
The 'seven' processes of your school days are just one definition of life. There are many others. For Wikispecies, this is not that important. It's consensus that counts and this is properly versed in Railgun's last two sentences. - Lycaon 19:07, 3 January 2006 (UTC)Reply

I have personaly heard that the requirements of life are such:

  • Reproduction
  • Energy use
  • Cells
  • Homeostasis
  • Organization
  • Growth

I know you may consider this information unimportant however I personaly believe some people may find it beneficial; I am not saying these are the absolute requirements; however, it puts forth a good general idea.


How did viruses evolve? They are so simple, so must have appeared quickly, and did they continually die off or remain dormant till host organisms evolved to support them? Since they are so simple, could new viruses continue to spontainiously appear is areas of high organic molecule concentration? 17:17, 3 January 2006 (UTC)Reply

I think the safest bet is that viral genes originate in a living organism. The first virus may well have been the result of a major transcriptional or replicational error. It is more difficult to imagine a virus originating as randomly conjoined nucleotides, as that would require reinventing the fundamental life process (storage of hereditary information) unnecessarily.--Centinel 02:19, 27 July 2006 (UTC)Reply
There are two main theories that scientists have on the origin of viruses. The first is that they were originally runaway bits of genetic material (probably like plasmids or transposons, because they move around a lot) that escaped from a cell and developed/evolved into a parasitic organism over time. The other hypothesis is that they were small organisms that parasitized larger organisms. Eventually, they streamlined their ability to reproduce in the pursuit of efficiency. As far as evolution goes, most viruses mutate at a higher rate than other life, meaning there is more genetic variation. For example, HIV-1 on average mutates once every replication. This means that the chances are higher that the virus will evolve. - Im.a.lumberjack 04:37, 4 January 2007 (UTC)Reply

on hold for English wikipedia[edit]


A virus consists of a protein mantle that encapsulates a strand of DNA or RNA, either single-stranded or double-stranded. The DNA or RNA is injected into a cell nucleus, where the machinery of the cell takes the code and produces many more copies of the virus. These copies "break out" of the cell and each may go on to "infect" another cell and repeat the process.

Some infections are benign to the cell and organism, while some cause rapid cell death and serious disease. Virus particles can be released from the host cell either by budding of the phospholipid membrane or by traumatic lysing.

It is assumed that viral infection occurs passively, with the virus pathogen being delivered to its preferred host by Brownian motion and natural circulatory and behavioral processes of the organism. It is difficult, however, to observe a virus in situ due to the limitations of modern microscopes.

Viruses are very small, with a typical size between 40 and 100 nm (1 nm = 10-9 m, nm=nanometer). The term "virus" is used when referring to pathogens which attack eukaryotes (multi-celled organisms and many single-celled organisms). Similar pathogens which attack bacteria are called "bacteriophage" or "phage" (bacteriophage means "bacteria-eating", from the Greek φαγειν: to eat).

Technically speaking, a virus is not usually considered to be a living organism and as such cannot be "killed". "Killed" viruses are often referred to as being inactivated. A virus killed by fragmentation can resurrect itself if the entire genome from various pieces of fragmented virions are placed within a cell. The resultants will have a mix of genetic lineages.

It is impossible to define whether or not a virus is a living organism because there are no clear definitions of life (and many such definitions include conditions that a virus does not meet, leading to a questioning of those definitions by some). This controversy leads into the debate on whether or not viruses, if living, require a kingdom of their own, separate from bacteria, animals, plants, fungi, and protists.

Viroids, nanobacterium and mimiviruses[edit]

Added a couple of strange things.

Viroids and mimivirus exists. So they should be named.

Nanobacterium is not proven today, so it might not be encyclepedic. I am confused that exactly the goal of wikispecies is.

Viruses, whether considered organisms or not, are Vectors.

Prion (not a Virus because it only changes the shape of similar proteins; no replication; no Nucleic Acids.)

Viroid (like Viruses but lack a protein capsid; plant pathogens)

Mimivirus (a large virus, 400nm, that is able to produce proteins. Some believe that mimiviruses should be in a new superregnum.)

Nanobacterium (some scientists believe that it exists at 20 nm in large life forms, the smallest known virus is about 200nm)

Virus classification[edit]

Aren't viruses assigned into a heirarchy by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV)? Accordingly the decided grouping is:

Order->Group->Family->Subfamily->Genus->species followed by subspecies/strain/variant/isolate

According to the Eight Report of the ICTV there is 3 orders, 731 families, 9 subfamilies, 287 genera and more than 1938 species of virus. (See Virus Taxonomy: The Eighth Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.

So why is there confussion on Wikispecies? Even unclassified viruses, Satellites, Viroids, and Prions are listed in the virus Family/Subfamily/Genus/species taxonomy. Example: Family-Prions, Subfamily-Mammalian Prions, Genus-Agents of Spongiform Encephalopathies, Species - Scrapie prion (causes Scrapie), or Species - BSE prion (cause Bovine spongiform encephalopathy aka Mad Cow disease), or even Species - CJD prion (causes Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease).

I think we should stick to the autority virus taxonomy, and right now thats the Virus Taxonomy: The Eighth Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.

we have the tenth report of ICTV meanwhile as of November 3rd, 2018. Phyla, classes and more have been registered. 14 orders. Regnum is not ICTV bur realm, however there is no official realm named up to now. Anyway, some satellites an viroids have been registered already. This article needs an urgent update! --Ernsts (talk) 20:24, 3 December 2018 (UTC)Reply


According to the determining authority, the Eight Report of the ICTV, there is only 3 orders of viruses, why is Viroid (renamed Viroidales) included as a 4th? Even though Viroid is at the order level it is clearly not in the Regnum Virus. To be accurate it should be in the Regnum not divided, just as a Virus is not divided for Superregnum.

(See the ICTVdb Descriptions for a complete an accurate up-to-date taxonomy of Viruses, Unclassified Viruses, Satellite Viruses & Satellite Nucleic Acids, Viroids, and Prions.)


Shouldn't the name of the "kingdom" be "vira", as the latin plural for "virus"? Gbnogkfs 7 January 2007, 22:51 UTC

Isn't the plural of virus, also virus? see en:plural of virus and en:wikt:virus... virii is also popular. 06:08, 7 January 2007 (UTC)Reply
The first link you provided says no clear plural form is attested in classical latin, while the second says "vira" is the plural :) The problem arises as "virus" is an irregular neuter word of the 2nd declention, where it should have been "virum". The two most likely correct forms are thus "vira" or "viri". Anyhow, "virii" is surely wrong (it would have been the plural of "virius", had it existed).
Is there and international standard? If not, I propose to switch to either "vira" (my favourite) or "viri". Gbnogkfs 7 January 2007, 17:34 UTC

Virus name in Hindi[edit]

Isn't virus called vishaannu in Hindi ?

Viruses in kingdoms[edit]

If viruses were classified as living what kingdom would they fall into or would they form a kingdom of their own?

You still havent answered my question! i am sick of reading 100's of pages to still not find the answer to my question.


I think this page should be deleted because viruses do not count as life.--Arceus fan 22:10, 28 September 2007 (UTC)Reply

whether something is or isn't life is still up to debate; therefore, while we are still unsure of anything we should be open minded to everything. The point im trying to make is this until you can prove to me beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt that it is definitely living or not living we should put forth the best effort we can to brainstorm on what it realy is and by deleting this page you would be getting rid of a spot that an intellectual breakthrough may occur. so before you make another short sighted remark think about the long term

Viruses are classified as species, and this is wikispecies, so it should be here. 16:16, 1 December 2007 (UTC)Reply
I wish every wiki- editor thought like you. We should be INCLUSIVE, not exclusive. Selective knowledge is little better than ignorance. 13:21, 5 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

This page is very interesting and useful, because the discussion about if vira are or not alive (as I believe). Exclude it will exclude too the polemics (CL-P, Br).

Living vs non-living[edit]

Just thought I would throw in my 2 cents worth!!

As a Virologist I am slightly biased, and I would prefer viruses to be regarded as living entities. The reason for this is that they have played an enormous role in the evolution of most (if not all) living organisms. In an indirect way they have contributed to evolution through the transfer of genetic material between individuals and species. In a much more direct way there is the argument that viruses may have contributed to our direct evolution as the progenitors of all life during the RNA World.

The problem we face in classifying viruses as "living" is that once viruses are included in the Tree of Life it is a very slippery slope. Do we then include satellite viruses, viroids, bacteriophages, virusoids, prophages, plasmids and all of the other virus related transmissible elements? But it is important that these kinds of discussions are conducted. It may seem semantics to categorise viruses as living or non-living, but we currently only have one system to study - Earth. Imagine when we start sampling other planets for living organisms!! Unless we have a clear definition of what is "living" here on Earth, our detection and classification of possible alien mircoorganisms will never be properly done.

Sorely outdated[edit]

This page as well as all the stem from it are sorely outdated by a few years. One such example: Anellovirus is listed as a genus, even though in 2009 it became a family (Anelloviridae). Is it suitable to use the ICTV's website as a source on this Wikimedia project? If so, then I will likely update much of this myself over time. ComfyKem (talk) 05:37, 4 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

The taxonomy has been updated after ICTV Virus Taxonomy 2014:
- Species level achieved -
Ordo: Caudovirales (01.2016)
Ordo: Herpesvirales (12.2015)
Ordo: Ligamenvirales (01.2016)
Ordo: Mononegavirales (01.2016)
Ordo: Nidovirales (01.2016)
Ordo: Picornavirales (01.2016)
Ordo: Tymovirales (01.2016)
Group: Viroids (01.2016)
Unassigned Familiae (01.2016)
Unassigned Genera (01.2016)
- Baltimore classification -
Done after Viral Zone (01.2016)
- Subviral agents -
Satellites and other virus-dependent nucleic acids (overview)
Viroids done (01.2016)
Prions (overview)
--Murma174 (talk) 16:27, 27 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
Update ICTV 2015 (07.2016) --Murma174 (talk) 11:40, 17 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
I have been monitoring many of the virus pages for quite some time and yes, many – perhaps even the majority? – of them needs rather a lot of work. Personally I have more or less no access to papers regarding the taxonomy and systematics of virii, but I will be glad to put in some effort if there are suitable and accurate online links available. –Tommy Kronkvist (talk),11:56, 17 August 2016 (UTC).Reply
@Tommy Kronkvist: I'm sorry, Tommy, I wanted to express, that the ICTV Update 2015 was  Done. So Virus should be at a good state at the moment. Of course each single species page could contain additional information. --Murma174 (talk) 13:24, 17 August 2016 (UTC)Reply

ICTV 2017[edit]

All new virus species and corresponding genera, familiae after ICTV 2017  Done --Murma174 (talk) 09:48, 25 May 2018 (UTC)Reply

We now have ICTV Nov. 2018 10th report. A new update was neccessary. Kind regards --Ernsts (talk) 20:26, 3 December 2018 (UTC)Reply

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