How are different viruses classified?

How are different viruses classified?

Viruses are infectious agents that are replicated inside their host cells. They are agents that live in the host cell and transfer their DNA to the host cell, damaging the cell permanently. They can infect all types of organisms such as animals, plants and bacteria. Viruses are made up of a protein capsule which is an outer protective coat. The function of the capsule is to protect the viruses’ genetic material from getting damaged or from being lost. Viruses consist of nucleic acids, DNA and RNA, which can either be double of single stranded, linear or circular. One virus contains one nucleic acid. Some viruses have lipid membranes that surround the protein capsule; it allows lipid soluble compounds into the particle. A complete virus particle is called a virion.

There are many different species of viruses that that have a different effect on their host. All the different viruses can be classified. Once method of classifying viruses is by using a taxonomic system. This system has groups that are arranged in a hierarchy order. Viruses are classified into a taxonomic system, starting from order, then family to species. The morphology of the viruses is what allows them to classified into these different taxonomic groups starting from order. For example, the species Entero bacteriophage p22 is in the order Caudovirales, in the family Podoviridae and in the genus P22-like viruses. Classifying a virus into a taxonomic system will show the evolutionary development of the viruses that has occurred over time. Some viruses have evolved from bacteria and the initial origin of other viruses is not clear, so the taxonomic grouping system starts from the taxon order. Using the taxonomic system is what defines the relationship between the different species of viruses.

Another way to classify viruses is to classify them on their properties such as their phenotypic characteristics, such as their morphology. The properties that are used to group them in this way are: the type of disease that they cause, such as the common cold, rabies or measles; the host organism that they are found in, the sites in the body that they effect; and the type of nucleic acid that they contain. The morphology that a virus has relates to the shape and structure of their capsule, which can be simple or complex helical or isocahedral shape, or the presence of a lipid membrane on their protein coat.

These phenotypic characteristics can be observed from the virus and can be used to classify viruses into the taxonomic system . These methods of classifying viruses allows a new species of virus to be easy classified, named and compared to other similar viruses.

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