The DNAs of rabbitpox, vaccinia, cowpox, ectromelia and fowl pox virus, all grown in the same host system, were cleaved with restriction endonucleases dIII, I and RI. The resulting digestion products were separated by electrophoresis on agarose slab gels. From the similarities and dissimilarities of the migration profiles obtained, it was concluded that vaccinia and rabbitpox virus are genetically the most closely related viruses investigated, although their DNA cleavage patterns are clearly distinguishable. Cowpox and ectromelia virus both show about the same degree of relatedness to each other as to rabbitpox and vaccinia virus. Fowl pox virus, which belongs to the genus , contains the largest genome examined (approx. 160 × 10 daltons) and the cleavage patterns of its DNA show no similarities with those of orthopoxvirus DNAs, thus indicating a very low degree of genetic relatedness. We believe that restriction analysis is a useful method for the identification and classification of poxvirus isolates.


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