Add strain, variant, or "no taxon" taxonomic ranks

iNaturalist virus taxonomy curation and observation are still in early stages, but recently activity has increased. Currently available ranks below species include (highest to lowest): hybrid, subspecies, variety, form, and infrahybrid. I suggest adding the virus nomenclature-specific ranks strain (below species or subspecies - to be determined) and variant (below strain). This would also help because the iNat. naming format of subspecies doesn’t fit virus names well (it includes genus, species, and “ssp.” followed by subspecies name). A second possibility would be adding “no taxon” ranks to be used (given the difficulty defining which ranks to use).

As mentioned in the previous forum discussion, while strain and variety are more commonly used in virology than, say, subspecies, there is no universal consensus on what to call these ranks, with some even using subspecies. Therefore, I suppose need for this feature request isn’t especially high, but it’s not completely unjustified, either. I wonder how difficult it is for the developers to implement this idea. For now, I’ll sit on the fence.

I’d prefer sars made a strain, given iNat. ssp. name spelling formatting doesn’t fit well. But this feature request is applicable to more virus taxa than sars too, and doesn’t depend on how to classify sars or sars variants. e.g., sars “variants” could be classified at the same or a lower taxonomic rank as sars. If the first, they’d all display as strains, but that’s not necessarily a problem. It’s reasonable given the complex taxonomy. Or they could be called variants. So, this overall request is just about adding the rank options - primarily strain if variant couldn’t be. And could apply to many taxa. Also you may have meant variants, but varieties (an existing rank) are mostly used for plants I think. I understand, varieties could maybe be used in place of having a variant rank, if needed (a rank below subspecies). I just prefer taxonomy to include some virus nomenclature/terms.

I guess another solution could be to add ranks that don’t have rank names. In that possibility, sars and sars variants are one rank below species (or one is and the other is two ranks below), but don’t have a rank name. This could be called “no taxon” (which is used on some websites). And also, I’d prefer if that would remove the need for the scientific name of sars to say “ssp.” I’ve updated my view and request to include the “no taxon” option too.

Yes, I meant to say variant. I agree, variety is a botanical rank.

I appreciate there being more people on iNaturalist than just me who are interested in this.

I suppose that could work too. Instead of No taxon, I’m familiar with Unranked, which is used on Wikipedia.

1 Like