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, 89 (3), 339-351

An Ecological Framework of the Human Virome Provides Classification of Current Knowledge and Identifies Areas of Forthcoming Discovery


An Ecological Framework of the Human Virome Provides Classification of Current Knowledge and Identifies Areas of Forthcoming Discovery

Michael T Parker. Yale J Biol Med.


Recent advances in sequencing technologies have opened the door for the classification of the human virome. While taxonomic classification can be applied to the viruses identified in such studies, this gives no information as to the type of interaction the virus has with the host. As follow-up studies are performed to address these questions, the description of these virus-host interactions would be greatly enriched by applying a standard set of definitions that typify them. This paper describes a framework with which all members of the human virome can be classified based on principles of ecology. The scaffold not only enables categorization of the human virome, but can also inform research aimed at identifying novel virus-host interactions.

Keywords: commensalism; ecology; endogenous retroelements; evolution; human health; immunology; microbiology; microbiome; mutualism; parasitism; phage therapy; symbiosis; virology; virome.


Figure 1
Figure 1
An Ecological Framework of the Human Virome. The human virome can be partitioned into three main groups: Parasitic, Commensal, and Mutualistic. Each of these sections of the virome exhibit traits delineating them from one another and are described in each respective sector. These classifications are not static, as disturbance of homeostasis can destabilize the yin and yang between virus and host. Such disruption can lead to pathology associated with viruses typically classified as Commensal or Mutualistic, or can even ascribe benefit to typically Parasitic viruses.

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