Archives of Virology

, Volume 157, Issue 10, pp 1843–1849

Prokaryote viruses studied by electron microscopy

Brief Review

DOI: 10.1007/s00705-012-1383-y

Cite this article as:
Ackermann, HW. & Prangishvili, D. Arch Virol (2012) 157: 1843. doi:10.1007/s00705-012-1383-y


This review summarizes the electron microscopical descriptions of prokaryote viruses. Since 1959, nearly 6300 prokaryote viruses have been described morphologically, including 6196 bacterial and 88 archaeal viruses. As in previous counts, the vast majority (96.3 %) are tailed, and only 230 (3.7 %) are polyhedral, filamentous, or pleomorphic. The family Siphoviridae, whose members are characterized by long, noncontractile tails, is by far the largest family (over 3600 descriptions, or 57.3 %). Prokaryote viruses are found in members of 12 bacterial and archaeal phyla. Archaeal viruses belong to 15 families or groups of family level and infect members of 16 archaeal genera, nearly exclusively hyperthermophiles or extreme halophiles. Tailed archaeal viruses are found in the Euryarchaeota only, whereas most filamentous and pleomorphic archaeal viruses occur in the Crenarchaeota. Bacterial viruses belong to 10 families and infect members of 179 bacterial genera, mostly members of the Firmicutes and γ-proteobacteria.

Supplementary material

705_2012_1383_MOESM1_ESM.rtf (246 kb)
Table S1 Frequency of virus observations in archaea and bacteria. (RTF 245 kb)
705_2012_1383_MOESM2_ESM.rtf (64 kb)
Table S2a Observations of polyhedral, filamentous, and pleomorphic phages. a. Eubacterial viruses. (RTF 64 kb)
705_2012_1383_MOESM3_ESM.doc (51 kb)
Table S2b Observations of polyhedral, filamentous, and pleomorphic phages. b Classified archaeal viruses. (DOC 51 kb)
705_2012_1383_MOESM4_ESM.doc (36 kb)
Table S2c Observations of polyhedral, filamentous, and pleomorphic phages. c Archaeal viruses awaiting classification. (DOC 35 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infectiology, Faculty of Medicine, Félix d’Herelle Reference Center for Bacterial VirusesLaval UniversityQuebecCanada
  2. 2.Extremophiles Unit, Institut PasteurMolecular Biology of the GeneParisFrance

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