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A Viral Biorealm page on the family Ampullaviridae

Baltimore Classification

Higher order taxa

Viruses; dsDNA viruses, no RNA stage; Ampullaviridae


Description and Significance

Ampullaviridae is a proposed family of crenarchaeal viruses. Ampullaviridae gets its name from the Latin "ampulla" for bottle because of the unique bottle-shaped morphology of the virions. Such a shape had not been previously observed in the viral world. In the Ampullaviridae, the complex morphotype of asymmetric virions, lacking elements of regular helical symmetry, with two completely different structures at each end and an envelope encasing a funnel-shaped core suggests that such a complex morphotype facilitates infection. There is only one isolate in the Ampullaviridae family. (sources: Häring et al., Ortmann et al.)

Genome Structure

The Ampullaviridae genome consists of linear, double-stranded DNA. The genome is 23,900 nucleotides long. (source: Häring et al.)

Virion Structure of an Ampullaviridae

Ampullaviridae have enveloped, bottle-shaped virons with a funnel-shaped core. Virions have an overall length of 210-250 nm, 70-80 nm wide at the broad end, and 3-5 nm wide at the pointed end. The broad end has thin filaments which are inserted into a disc or ring and are interconnected at the base of the virion. The filaments are arranged in a circle and are about 20 nm in length and 3 nm in width. (source: Häring et al.)

Reproductive Cycle of an Ampullaviridae in a Host Cell

The basic replication cycle of crenarchaeal viruses, including the Ampullaviridae, has yet to be determined. There are, however, some trends which have been reported. Some viruses integrate their genome into the host cell's chromosome, while others maintain their genomes as extrachromosomal elements. Assembly and release of most known crenarchaeal viruses, do not require cell lysis. Most crenarchaeal viruses, with the exception of the Bicaudaviridae member ATV, appear to set up chronic infections, either continually producing virus particles or doing so in short events resulting in growth inhibition. These long-term chronic infections are thought to be an adaptation to the extremely hot and acidic environments crenarchaeal viruses inhabit. (source: Ortmann et al.)

Viral Ecology & Pathology

The Ampullaviridae infect only Acidianus species. (source: Ortmann et al.)


Häring et al. "Viral Diversity in Hot Springs of Pozzuoli, Italy, and Characterization of a Unique Archaeal Virus, Acidianus Bottle-Shaped Virus, from a New Family, the Ampullaviridae." Journal of Virology 79.15 (2005): 9904–9911.

Ortmann et al. "Hot crenarchaeal viruses reveal deep evolutionary connections." Nature Reviews Microbiology 4 (2006): 520-528.