Introduction to Viral Evolution, Morphology, and Classification

Discuss the basics of virus discovery, evolution, and classification

Viruses are diverse entities. They vary in their structure, their replication methods, and in their target hosts. Nearly all forms of life—from bacteria and archaea to eukaryotes such as plants, animals, and fungi—have viruses that infect them. While most biological diversity can be understood through evolutionary history, such as how species have adapted to conditions and environments, much about virus origins and evolution remains unknown.

What You’ll Learn to Do

  • Describe how viruses were first discovered and how they are detected
  • Discuss three hypotheses about how viruses evolved
  • Recognize the basic shapes of viruses
  • Understand past and emerging classification systems for viruses

Learning Activities

The learning activities for this section include the following:

  • History of Viruses
  • Viral Morphology
  • Viral Classification
  • Self Check: Viral Evolution, Morphology, and Classification