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Genus - Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.


A genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological
classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses,[1] in
biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes
above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the
genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for
each species within the genus.

E.g. Panthera leo (lion) and Panthera onca (jaguar) are two
species within the genus Panthera. Panthera is a genus within
the family Felidae.

The composition of a genus is determined by a taxonomist. The

standards for genus classification are not strictly codified, so
different authorities often produce different classifications for
genera. There are some general practices used, however,[2][3]
including the idea that a newly defined genus should fulfill these
three criteria to be descriptively useful:

1. monophyly – all descendants of an ancestral taxon are grouped

together (i.e. phylogenetic analysis should clearly demonstrate
both monophyly and validity as a separate lineage).
2. reasonable compactness – a genus should not be expanded
needlessly; and The hierarchy of
biological classification's
3. distinctness – with respect to evolutionarily relevant criteria, i.e.
eight major taxonomic
ecology, morphology, or biogeography; DNA sequences are a
consequence rather than a condition of diverging evolutionary ranks. A family contains
lineages except in cases where they directly inhibit gene flow one or more genera.
(e.g. postzygotic barriers). Intermediate minor
rankings are not shown.
Moreover, genera should be composed of phylogenetic units of the
same kind as other (analogous) genera.[4]

Use in nomenclature
The type concept
Categories of generic name
Identical names (homonyms)
Use in higher classifications
Numbers of accepted genera
Genus size

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See also
External links

The term "genus" comes from the Latin genus ("origin, type, group, race"),[5][6] a noun form
cognate with gignere ("to bear; to give birth to"). Linnaeus popularized its use in his 1753
Species Plantarum, but the French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (1656–1708) is
considered "the founder of the modern concept of genera".[7]

The scientific name (or the scientific epithet) of a genus is also called the generic name; in
modern style guides and science it is always capitalised. It plays a fundamental role in
binomial nomenclature, the system of naming organisms, where it is combined with the
scientific name of a species: see Specific name (botany) and Specific name (zoology).

Use in nomenclature

The rules for the scientific names of organisms are laid down in the Nomenclature Codes,
which allow each species a single unique name that, for "animals" (including protists),
"plants" (also including algae and fungi) and prokaryotes (Bacteria and Archaea), is Latin and
binomial in form; this contrasts with common or vernacular names, which are non-
standardized, can be non-unique, and typically also vary by country and language of usage.

Except for viruses, the standard format for a species name comprises the generic name,
indicating the genus to which the species belongs, followed by the specific epithet, which
(within that genus) is unique to the species. For example, the gray wolf's scientific name is
Canis lupus, with Canis (Lat. "dog") being the generic name shared by the wolf's close
relatives and lupus (Lat. "wolf") being the specific name particular to the wolf. A botanical
example would be Hibiscus arnottianus, a particular species of the genus Hibiscus native to
Hawaii. The specific name is written in lower-case and may be followed by subspecies names
in zoology or a variety of infraspecific names in botany.

When the generic name is already known from context, it may be shortened to its initial letter,
for example C. lupus in place of Canis lupus. Where species are further subdivided, the
generic name (or its abbreviated form) still forms the leading portion of the scientific name,
for example, Canis lupus familiaris for the domestic dog (when considered a subspecies of the
gray wolf) in zoology, or as a botanical example, Hibiscus arnottianus ssp. immaculatus. Also,
as visible in the above examples, the Latinised portions of the scientific names of genera and
their included species (and infraspecies, where applicable) are, by convention, written in

The scientific names of virus species are descriptive, not binomial in form, and may or may
not incorporate an indication of their containing genus; for example, the virus species
"Salmonid herpesvirus 1", "Salmonid herpesvirus 2" and "Salmonid herpesvirus 3" are all
within the genus Salmonivirus, however, the genus to which the species with the formal

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names "Everglades virus" and "Ross River virus" are assigned is Alphavirus.

As with scientific names at other ranks, in all groups other than viruses, names of genera may
be cited with their authorities, typically in the form "author, year" in zoology, and "standard
abbreviated author name" in botany. Thus in the examples above, the genus Canis would be
cited in full as "Canis Linnaeus, 1758" (zoological usage), while Hibiscus, also first established
by Linnaeus but in 1753, is simply "Hibiscus L." (botanical usage).

The type concept

Each genus should have a designated type, although in practice there is a backlog of older
names without one. In zoology, this is the type species and the generic name is permanently
associated with the type specimen of its type species. Should the specimen turn out to be
assignable to another genus, the generic name linked to it becomes a junior synonym and the
remaining taxa in the former genus need to be reassessed.

Categories of generic name

In zoological usage, taxonomic names, including those of genera, are classified as "available"
or "unavailable". Available names are those published in accordance with the International
Code of Zoological Nomenclature and not otherwise suppressed by subsequent decisions of
the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN); the earliest such name for
any taxon (for example, a genus) should then be selected as the "valid" (i.e., current or
accepted) name for the taxon in question.

Consequently, there will be more available names than valid names at any point in time,
which names are currently in use depending on the judgement of taxonomists in either
combining taxa described under multiple names, or splitting taxa which may bring available
names previously treated as synonyms back into use. "Unavailable" names in zoology
comprise names that either were not published according to the provisions of the ICZN Code,
or have subsequently been suppressed, e.g., incorrect original or subsequent spellings, names
published only in a thesis, and generic names published after 1930 with no type species

In botany, similar concepts exist but with different labels. The botanical equivalent of
zoology's "available name" is a validly published name. An invalidly published name is a
nomen invalidum or nom. inval.; a rejected name is a nomen rejiciendum or nom. rej.; a later
homonym of a validly published name is a nomen illegitimum or nom. illeg.; for a full list
refer the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICNafp) and the
work cited above by Hawksworth, 2010.[8] In place of the "valid taxon" in zoology, the nearest
equivalent in botany is "correct name" or "current name" which can, again, differ or change
with alternative taxonomic treatments or new information that results in previously accepted
genera being combined or split.

Prokaryote and virus Codes of Nomenclature also exist which serve as a reference for
designating currently accepted genus names as opposed to others which may be either
reduced to synonymy, or, in the case of prokaryotes, relegated to a status of "names without
standing in prokaryotic nomenclature".

An available (zoological) or validly published (botanical) name that has been historically
applied to a genus but is not regarded as the accepted (current/valid) name for the taxon is

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termed a synonym; some authors also include unavailable names in lists of synonyms as well
as available names, such as misspellings, names previously published without fulfilling all of
the requirements of the relevant nomenclatural Code, and rejected or suppressed names.

A particular genus name may have zero to many synonyms, the latter case generally if the
genus has been known for a long time and redescribed as new by a range of subsequent
workers, or if a range of genera previously considered separate taxa have subsequently been
consolidated into one. For example, the World Register of Marine Species presently lists 8
genus-level synonyms for the sperm whale genus Physeter Linnaeus, 1758,[9] and 13 for the
bivalve genus Pecten O.F. Müller, 1776.[10]

Identical names (homonyms)

Within the same kingdom, one generic name can apply to one genus only. However, many
names have been assigned (usually unintentionally) to two or more different genera. For
example, the platypus belongs to the genus Ornithorhynchus although George Shaw named it
Platypus in 1799 (these two names are thus synonyms). However, the name Platypus had
already been given to a group of ambrosia beetles by Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Herbst in
1793. A name that means two different things is a homonym. Since beetles and platypuses
are both members of the kingdom Animalia, the name could not be used for both. Johann
Friedrich Blumenbach published the replacement name Ornithorhynchus in 1800.

However, a genus in one kingdom is allowed to bear a scientific name that is in use as a
generic name (or the name of a taxon in another rank) in a kingdom that is governed by a
different nomenclature code. Names with the same form but applying to different taxa are
called "homonyms". Although this is discouraged by both the International Code of Zoological
Nomenclature and the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants, there
are some five thousand such names in use in more than one kingdom. For instance,

Anura is the name of the order of frogs but also is the name of a non-current genus of
Aotus is the generic name of both golden peas and night monkeys;
Oenanthe is the generic name of both wheatears and water dropworts;
Prunella is the generic name of both accentors and self-heal; and
Proboscidea is the order of elephants and the genus of devil's claws.
The name of the genus Paramecia (an extinct red alga) is also the plural of the name of
the genus Paramecium (which is in the SAR supergroup), which can also lead to

A list of generic homonyms (with their authorities), including both available (validly
published) and selected unavailable names, has been compiled by the Interim Register of
Marine and Nonmarine Genera (IRMNG).[11]

Use in higher classifications

The type genus forms the base for higher taxonomic ranks, such as the family name Canidae
("Canids") based on Canis. However, this does not typically ascend more than one or two
levels: the order to which dogs and wolves belong is Carnivora ("Carnivores").

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Numbers of accepted genera

The numbers of either accepted, or all published genus names is not known precisely; Rees et
al., 2020 estimate that approximately 310,000 accepted names (valid taxa) may exist, out of a
total of c. 520,000 published names (including synonyms) as at end 2019, increasing at some
2,500 published generic names per year.[12] "Official" registers of taxon names at all ranks,
including genera, exist for a few groups only such as viruses[1] and prokaryotes,[13] while for
others there are compendia with no "official" standing such as Index Fungorum for Fungi,[14]
Index Nominum Algarum[15] and AlgaeBase[16] for algae, Index Nominum Genericorum[17]
and the International Plant Names Index[18] for plants in general, and ferns through
angiosperms, respectively, and Nomenclator Zoologicus[19] and the Index to Organism Names
( for zoological names.

Totals for both "all names" and estimates for "accepted names" as held in the Interim Register
of Marine and Nonmarine Genera (IRMNG) are broken down further in the publication by
Rees et al., 2020 cited above. The accepted names estimates are as follows, broken down by

Animalia: 239,093 accepted genus names (± 55,350)

Plantae: 28,724 accepted genus names (± 7,721)
Fungi: 10,468 accepted genus names (± 182)
Chromista: 11,114 accepted genus names (± 1,268)
Protozoa: 3,109 accepted genus names (± 1,206)
Bacteria: 3,433 accepted genus names (± 115)
Archaea: 140 accepted genus names (± 0) Estimated accepted genus totals by
Viruses: 851 accepted genus names (± 0) kingdom - based on Rees et al.,
The cited ranges of uncertainty arise because IRMNG lists
"uncertain" names (not researched therein) in addition to
known "accepted" names; the values quoted are the mean of "accepted" names alone (all
"uncertain" names treated as unaccepted) and "accepted + uncertain" names (all "uncertain"
names treated as accepted), with the associated range of uncertainty indicating these two

Within Animalia, the largest phylum is Arthropoda, with 151,697 ± 33,160 accepted genus
names, of which 114,387 ± 27,654 are insects (class Insecta). Within Plantae, Tracheophya
(vascular plants) make up the largest component, with 23,236 ± 5,379 accepted genus names,
of which 20,845 ± 4,494 are angiosperms (superclass Angiospermae).

By comparison, the 2018 annual edition of the Catalogue of Life (estimated >90% complete,
for extant species in the main) contains currently 175,363 "accepted" genus names for
1,744,204 living and 59,284 extinct species,[20] also including genus names only (no species)
for some groups.

Genus size
The number of species in genera varies considerably among taxonomic groups. For instance,
among (non-avian) reptiles, which have about 1180 genera, the most (>300) have only 1
species, ~360 have between 2 and 4 species, 260 have 5-10 species, ~200 have 11-50 species,
and only 27 genera have more than 50 species (see figure).[21] However, some insect genera

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such as the bee genera Lasioglossum and

Andrena have over 1000 species each. The
largest flowering plant genus, Astragalus,
contains over 3,000 species.[22]

Which species are assigned to a genus is

somewhat arbitrary. Although all species
within a genus are supposed to be "similar"
there are no objective criteria for grouping
species into genera. There is much debate
among zoologists whether large, species-rich
genera should be maintained, as it is
extremely difficult to come up with Number of reptile genera with a given number of
identification keys or even character sets that species. Most genera have only one or a few
distinguish all species. Hence, many species but a few may have hundreds. Based on
taxonomists argue in favor of breaking down data from the Reptile Database (as of May 2015).
large genera. For instance, the lizard genus
Anolis has been suggested to be broken down
into 8 or so different genera which would bring its ~400 species to smaller, more manageable

See also
List of the largest genera of flowering plants

1. "ICTV Taxonomy" ( International
Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. 2017. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
2. Sigward, J. D.; Sutton, M. D.; Bennett, K. D. (2018). "How big is a genus? Towards a
nomothetic systematics" (
Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 183 (2): 237–252. doi:10.1093/zoolinnean
/zlx059 (
3. Gill, F. B.; Slikas, B.; Sheldon, F. H. (2005). "Phylogeny of titmice (Paridae): II. Species
relationships based on sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene". Auk. 122 (1):
121–143. doi:10.1642/0004-8038(2005)122[0121:POTPIS]2.0.CO;2 (
4. de la Maza-Benignos, Mauricio; Lozano-Vilano, Ma. de Lourdes; García-Ramírez, María
Elena (December 2015). "Response paper: Morphometric article by Mejía et al. 2015
alluding genera Herichthys and Nosferatu displays serious inconsistencies". Neotropical
Ichthyology. 13 (4): 673–676. doi:10.1590/1982-0224-20150066 (
5. "genus" ( Merriam-Webster
Dictionary. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
6. Harper, Douglas. "genus" ( Online Etymology
7. Stuessy, T. F. (2009). Plant Taxonomy: The Systematic Evaluation of Comparative Data
(2nd ed.). New York, New York, US: Columbia University Press. p. 42.
ISBN 9780231147125.

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8. D. L. Hawksworth (2010). Terms Used in Bionomenclature: The Naming of Organisms and

Plant Communities : Including Terms Used in Botanical, Cultivated Plant, Phylogenetic,
Phytosociological, Prokaryote (bacteriological), Virus, and Zoological Nomenclature (http
s:// GBIF. pp. 1–215.
ISBN 978-87-92020-09-3.
9. World Register of Marine Species: Physeter Linnaeus, 1758 (http://www.marinespecies.or
10. World Register of Marine Species: Pecten O. F. Müller, 1776 (http://www.marinespecies.or
11. "IRMNG: Interim Register of Marine and Nonmarine Genera" (
yms.php). Retrieved 2016-11-17.
12. Rees, Tony; Vandepitte, Leen; Vanhoorne, Bart; Decock, Wim (2020). "All genera of the
world: an overview and estimates based on the March 2020 release of the Interim
Register of Marine and Nonmarine Genera (IRMNG)" (
e/view/megataxa.1.2.3/39250). Megataxa. 1: 123–140. doi:10.11646/megataxa.1.2.3 (http
13. List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature (
14. Index Fungorum (
15. Index Nominum Algarum (
16. AlgaeBase (
17. Index Nominum Genericorum (
18. The International Plant Names Index (
19. Nomenclator Zoologicus (
20. Information: Catalogue of Life: 2018 Annual Checklist (
21. The Reptile Database
22. Frodin, David G. (2004). "History and concepts of big plant genera". Taxon. 53 (3):
753–776. doi:10.2307/4135449 ( JSTOR 4135449 (h
23. Nicholson, K. E.; Crother, B. I.; Guyer, C.; Savage, J.M. (2012). "It is time for a new
classification of anoles (Squamata: Dactyloidae)" (
f/zt03477p108.pdf) (PDF). Zootaxa. 3477: 1–108. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3477.1.1 (https://d

External links
Interim Register of Marine and Nonmarine Genera (IRMNG) (
hp): includes an estimated 95% of published genus names (accepted and unaccepted) in
all groups (semi-continuously updated)
Nomenclator Zoologicus ( index of genus and
subgenus names (accepted and unaccepted) in zoological nomenclature from 1758 to
Index to Organism Names ( includes zoological taxon
names at all ranks (including genera) as continuously indexed for the Zoological Record
Index Nominum Genericorum (ING) ( a
compilation of generic names (accepted and unaccepted) published for organisms
covered by the ICN: International Code of Nomenclature for Algae, Fungi, and Plants
(semi-continuously updated)
LPSN – List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature (

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/): includes all currently accepted Bacteria and Archaea genus names (continuously
ICTV taxonomy releases ( latest
and historical lists of accepted virus names compiled by the International Committee on
Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV), including all currently accepted virus genus names (updated
via regular releases)

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