Phage family classification under Caudoviricetes : A review of current tools using the latest ICTV classification framework

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Original languageEnglish
Article number1032186
Journal / PublicationFrontiers in Microbiology
Online published16 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022



Bacteriophages, which are viruses infecting bacteria, are the most ubiquitous and diverse entities in the biosphere. There is accumulating evidence revealing their important roles in shaping the structure of various microbiomes. Thanks to (viral) metagenomic sequencing, a large number of new bacteriophages have been discovered. However, lacking a standard and automatic virus classification pipeline, the taxonomic characterization of new viruses seriously lag behind the sequencing efforts. In particular, according to the latest version of ICTV, several large phage families in the previous classification system are removed. Therefore, a comprehensive review and comparison of taxonomic classification tools under the new standard are needed to establish the state-of-the-art. In this work, we retrained and tested four recently published tools on newly labeled databases. We demonstrated their utilities and tested them on multiple datasets, including the RefSeq, short contigs, simulated metagenomic datasets, and low-similarity datasets. This study provides a comprehensive review of phage family classification in different scenarios and a practical guidance for choosing appropriate taxonomic classification pipelines. To our best knowledge, this is the first review conducted under the new ICTV classification framework. The results show that the new family classification framework overall leads to better conserved groups and thus makes family-level classification more feasible.

Research Area(s)

  • bacteriophage, taxonomic classification tools, viral metagenomic data, review of tools, Caudoviricetes

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