Learning Exercise

Virtual Virus Unknown

Students are given an electron micrograph of a virus and asked to design/describe experiments to identify the virus using the Key for Placement of Viruses in Taxa at this site. After each experiment is submitted, the instructor provides the students with the results. They continue until they have identified the virus.
Course: General Virology

The International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses contains links to the latest key to virus taxonomy. see more


The International Committee for the Taxonomy of Viruses provides a key for the
placement of viruses in taxa. This site can be accessed at
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ICTV/new_virkey.html. You have been given an
electron micrograph of your unknown virus. Follow the ICTV classification key
and use any other available resources to design experiments in order to elicit
information that will allow you to identify your unknown virus.

Each experiment should be submitted to the instructor typewritten or by email.
It need not be a detailed protocol but the strategy and methodology must be
apparent. As each test methodology is completed, you will learn the results for
your virus. Based on these results, you will continue until you are ready to
submit a final identification accompanied by an identification flow chart that
lists all tests used.


Technical Notes

The instructor must copy electron micrographs from texts or web sites so that they are of sufficient quality for student use. The level of detail that is expected for the experiments may vary. It can be a simple description of an experiment or a detailed protocol downloaded from a web site.


General understanding of molecular and cell biology experimental techniques


Virus structure and replication
Virus taxonomy

Learning Objectives

To identify an unknown virus using a key and based on laboratory tests
To apply knowledge of cell and molecular biology to viral identification