Archives of Virology

, Volume 143, Issue 10, pp 2051-2063

First online:

Taxonomy of bacterial viruses: establishment of tailed virus genera and the other Caudovirales

  • J. ManiloffAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester, School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York, U.S.A.
  • , H.-W. AckermannAffiliated withFélix d’Hérelle Reference Center for Bacterial Viruses, Département de Biologie Médicale, Université Laval, Faculté de Médecine, Cité Universitaire, Qébec, Canada

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Bacterial viruses have been classified into 13 families and 1 unassigned genus. A new order, Caudovirales, has now been established, comprising the three families of tailed bacterial viruses, based on similarities in tailed virus morphology, replication, and assembly. In addition, genera have been established for some species in each tailed virus family, based on properties involving viral DNA replication and packaging, and on some features specific to particular genera (e.g., DNA-termini linked proteins, virus-encoded polymerases, and ability to establish temperate infections). At present, there are six genera in the family Myoviridae (viruses with contractile tails), six in the family Siphoviridae (viruses with long, noncontractile tails), and three in the family Podoviridae (viruses with short noncontractile tails). In recognition that the definitions of tailed virus genera represent a “work in progress” and to keep the nomenclature flexible, tailed virus genera have been assigned vernacular names based on their type species.