Virologists are debating whether to establish a standardized virus naming system later this year. Some researchers say that the current virus nomenclature is messy and there is an urgent need for such a system. But others say it’s not the time to discuss naming conventions because virologists are focusing on fighting the new epidemic. There are several ways for virologists to name “species” – the most basic taxonomic hierarchy – usually based on where the virus is found, the parasite or the disease it causes. Many people believe that the lack of naming conventions confuses researchers who often need to identify new viruses. When the common name of the virus is the same as its species name, confusion can also be caused, such as variola virus, which causes smallpox.
international virus classification board (ICTV) is a special agency responsible for naming virus groups. The Agency proposed  a naming system, which will be voted on in October. If the system is adopted, it may change the naming method of 6500 viruses. Edward Holmes, a virologist at the University of Sydney in Australia, said: “it is obviously good and correct to formulate a standardized virus species naming and classification scheme, because the current ‘system’ is completely chaotic, which makes us who often identify new viruses feel helpless.” However, the work “is certainly not an ’emergency’ compared to a global pandemic,” he said. < / P > < p > other researchers believe that this is the best time to take action. Eric delwart, a virologist at the University of California, San Francisco, says the number of viruses and species identified has accelerated over the past 15 years thanks to genome sequencing technology. “We are in the golden age of virus discovery, and now is a good time to start sorting out the massive viral genome.” He said. < / P > < p > the debate arose as researchers discussed another naming issue: how to classify the tens of thousands of sars-cov-2 genomes being sequenced worldwide? The same virus groups that are similar in evolution are usually grouped into the same lineage. It’s important to track them because the virus can mutate more infectious or dangerous. However, Holmes and other virologists independent of ICTV proposed  a method for naming the sars-cov-2 lineage. < / P > < p > at present, the only requirements for virus names are italics (the first word is capitalized), proper clarity, and the number of words is as few as possible – but some names are still very long, such as tomato yellow leaf curl Indonesia virus. On December 3, members of the ICTV executive committee published a paper  in the archives of Virology, proposing a new name format, in which species names will be limited to two words. The first word is genus (ending with – virus), which is defined as a group of species with some common characteristics. There are three choices for the second word: one is to insist on using Latin terms, which are consistent with similar rules for naming organisms, such as Homo sapiens; the second is to limit it to numbers or letters, such as alphacoronavirus 1; and the third is to use any character set. In other words, the existing name will either be condensed into a single, possibly Latinized word, or a number or letter. < / P > < p > the paper, the result of several years of public discussion, invited researchers to provide feedback by June 30 and then make a decision at the committee’s next meeting in October. After that, the decision will be submitted to all members of ICTV for a vote. However, several virologists said that they did not pay attention to the paper at that time, but devoted themselves to the fight against the new coronavirus. “In an ideal world, we’ll all see these journals, but we’ve got a lot of literature to read now.” Said Katherine Spindler, a virologist at the University of Michigan and director of finance at the American Society of Virology (ASV). ASV is one of the largest virological communities in the world, with more than 3000 members in about 20 countries. “Taxonomy doesn’t affect my work. It’s only when I write my paper that I think about it. ” Spindler said she learned about the consultation only after the June 30 deadline. She and other members of the ASV executive committee wrote to the ICTV Committee on July 9, saying that their members did not have enough time to consider the issue. < / P > < p > the Australasian virology Association (AVS), representing about 700 members of Australia and New Zealand, sent a letter to ICTV on July 4. “We don’t think 2020, covid-19, is the right time for a major change in virus nomenclature. Our members are overwhelmed by other tasks, and many have not had time to think about it The letter said. In response to concerns about timing, Andrew Davison, chairman of ICTV and virologist at the University of Glasgow, said that one version of the proposal had been on the ICTV agenda for nearly two years, but he hoped that the committee would consider all relevant factors at the meeting. “I agree that this is an extraordinary time.” He said. In their letters, ASV and AVS also said that they were against the idea of forcing Latin names because it would require virologists to learn Latin grammar and would be cumbersome to implement. Both groups tend to use any word as a species name, but AVS’s first choice is to maintain the status quo, the letter said. “There’s no need to completely change the whole system.” GILDA tachedjian, chair of AVS and virologist at Burnett Institute in Melbourne. < / P > < p > when naming a species, virologists need only know the appropriate Latin suffix, says Jens Kuhn, a virologist at the integrated research facility in Maryland and a member of the ICTV Executive Committee. Not only that, Latin terms will also be universal and will not require translation in papers published in languages other than English. < / P > < p > when naming many sars-cov-2 lineages, consistency is essential – virologists have no objection. At present, these genealogies are being labeled with various temporary labels. “It’s clear that we will eventually get more than 100000 complete genome sequences of sars-cov-2, which is amazing. The most important thing is to come up with a simple, reasonable and widely adopted mechanism to classify them. ” Holmes said. < / P > < p > there is no official agency that specifically decides how to name the virus lineage. “We have stepped in to solve this problem. Whether people will adopt it is another matter: it really depends on the user. ” Holmes said. < / P > < p > he and his colleagues propose a dynamic approach that prioritizes the lineages that have caused epidemics. These lineages will be labeled active, unobserved, or inactive based on the time they were most recently separated; these tags will be periodically reassessed based on whether they are still spreading. This method, described in the July 15 issue of nature microbiology, seems to have the support of virologists. The team has also developed online tools to help users identify which lineage their sequences belong to. Systems like < / P > < p > make it easier to start by monitoring virus lineages with unique pathogenic characteristics, said Elliot Lefkowitz, a virologist at the University of Alabama and a member of the ICTV Executive Committee.