Caister Academic Press

Viruses of Domain Archaea

Stephen T. Abedon
from: Viruses of Microorganisms (Edited by: Paul Hyman and Stephen T. Abedon). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2018) Pages: 167-192.


There are three cellular domains - Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya - each of which possesses its own distinct set of viruses. Of these viruses the least studied and, indeed, least appreciated are the archaeal viruses. This poor appreciation stems in part from the historical lateness of the recognition of domain Archaea as a distinct lineage but also the historical lateness of the isolation of the first archaeal virus, with both events occurring in the 1970s. In addition, Archaea tend to be relatively difficult to cultivate and for the most part are not responsible for diseases (with both statuses resulting in a relative lack of applied interest). Their viruses, however, seem to display a plethora of morphologies which are distinct to the Archaea. The study of archaeal viruses as a consequence of these factors is relatively new but nevertheless has become an exciting area of inquiry, with a promise of discovery of much novel biology. In this chapter I briefly consider the history of archaeal virus study, provide an overview of what archaeal virus hosts these viruses have been isolated against, and describe archaeal virus types. The intention overall is to provide an introduction to the idea of archaeal viruses, along with their history and characteristics, rather than, and in light of space limitations, an exhaustive overview of this otherwise still relatively new field read more ...
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