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• governs the scientific

names for Bacteria and
History of the Code

In the 19th century and the first half of the

20th century, bacteriologists tried to follow
the provisions of the Botanical Code of
Nomenclature. However, it was apparent
that rules in botany did not fit too well with
the needs of bacteriologists and it was
decided that bacteriology should establish its
own Code of Nomenclature
 1936 - A draft Code was presented at the
Second Congress in London and placed under
the care of the International Committee for
Bacteriological Nomenclature, today known
as the International Committee on
Systematics of Prokaryotes. Following this
Congress, there was further drafting and
included a provision for a Judicial
Commission to regulate Rules, a provision
that still exists today.
 1958 - The first edition of the International Code of
Nomenclature of Bacteria and Viruses was
published and a journal for bacterial
nomenclature was started, the International
Bulletin of Bacterial Nomenclature and
Taxonomy, later known as International Journal
of Systematic Bacteriology (IJSB) and now
known as the International Journal of Systematic
and Evolutionary Microbiology (IJSEM). The
nomenclature of viruses was later transferred
and is now under the International Committee on
Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV).
1980 - A new start for nomenclature of bacteria
was made after it became clear that the
traditional starting date for plant names of
Linnaeus in 1753 was unrealistic for the
naming of bacteria. Lists were made of
names that could be satisfactorily
associated with known bacteria, and these
formed the foundation document, the
Approved Lists of Bacterial Names.
 1992 - Revised edition of the Code, the
International Code of Nomenclature of
Bacteria published based on 1990

 2018 - The updated Code published and given

a new name to reflect the fact that it
governs a larger group of organisms
other than Bacteria and is now known as
The International Code of
Nomenclature of Prokaryotes
The essential points in nomenclature are as
1. Aim at stability of names.
2. Avoid or reject the use of names which may
cause error or confusion.
3. Avoid the useless creation of names.

• The primary purpose of giving a name to a

taxon is to supply a means of referring to it
rather than to indicate the characters or
the history of the taxon.
The correct name of a taxon is based upon :

1) valid publication - A name of a taxon has

no status under the rules and no claim to
recognition unless it is validly published at the
International Journal of Systematic and
Evolutionary Microbiology.

2) legitimacy – should be in accordance

with the Rules
priority of publication - Priority of publication dates
from 1 January 1980. Names of bacteria in the various
taxonomic categories published up to 31 December
1977 were assessed by the Judicial Commission with
the assistance of taxonomic experts. Lists of names
were prepared together with the names of the authors
who originally proposed the names. These Approved
Lists of Bacterial Names were approved by the ICSB
and published in the IJSB (now ISJEM) on 1 January
1980. Names validly published between 1 January
1978 and I January 1980 were included in the
Approved Lists of Bacterial Names.
Taxonomic Rank
Species (Species)

Subgenus (Subgenus)
Genus (Genus)
Subtribe (Subtribus)
Tribe (Tribus)
Subfamily (Subfamilia)
Family (Familia)
Suborder (Subordo)
Order (Ordo)
Subclass (Subclassis)
Class (Classis)
Naming of Taxa

• The scientific names of all taxa are Latin or

latinized words treated as Latin regardless of their
origin. They are usually taken from Latin or Greek.

• Names of taxa above the rank of species are

single words.
Kingdom: Bacteria
Phylum: Firmicutes
Class: Bacilli
Order: Bacillales
Family: Staphylococcaceae
Genus: Staphylococcus
Species: S. aureus
1.Avoid names or epithets that are very long or
difficult to pronounce.
2.Make names or epithets that have an agreeable
form that is easy to pronounce when latinized.
3.Avoid combining words from different
languages, hybrid names (nomina hybrida)
4.Do not adopt unpublished names or epithets found
in authors' notes, attributing them to the authors of
such notes, unless these authors have approved
5.Give the etymology of new generic names and of
new epithets.
6.Determine that the name or epithet which they
propose is in accordance with the Rules.
Formation of Prokaryote Names from
Personal Names

• Persons may be honoured by using their name

in forming a generic name or a specific epithet.
• The Code strongly recommends refraining from
naming genera (and subgenera) after persons that
are not connected with bacteriology or at least
with natural science.
• in the case of specific epithets ensure
that it recalls the name of one who
discovered or described it, or was in some
way connected with it
• The Code provides two ways to form a generic
name from a personal name:
1. either directly by adding the ending -a, -
ea, -nia or –ia
2. as a diminutive by adding, usually, the
ending -ella, -iella or -nella.

ex. Bucerius = ‘Buceria’ or ‘Buceriella’

 Not more than one person can be

honoured in one generic name or
 If an organism is named after a person, the
name cannot be shortened, e.g. ‘Wigglesia’
after Wigglesworth, ‘Stackia’ after Stackebrandt

 The Dutch prefix ‘van’ and the German prefix

‘von’ may be omitted or united to the name
(e.g. Escherichia after von Escherich

 In cases of very frequent family names where the

honoured person is not easily identifiable, first and
family name may be contracted without connecting
vowel or hyphenation, but otherwise treated like a
single family name. Examples: Owenweeksia,
Formation of Prokaryote Names from
Geographical Names

 They must be adjectives and are usually

constructed by adding the ending -ensis (masculine
or feminine gender) or -ense (neuter gender)
ex. jenensis from Jena,
californiensis from California

 If it ends in -o, the ending becomes -

nensis/-nense (ex. the name of the
Japanese city Sapporo: sapporonensis,
 Quite a number of localities in the Old World
(Europe, Asia, Africa) have classical Greek, Latin
or medieval Latin names and adjectives derived
from these: aegyptius (Egypt), africanus (Africa),
arabicus (Arabia), asiaticus (Asia), balticus
(Baltic Sea) etc.
Formation of Names for Prokaryotes Living in
Association or Symbiosis with Other Biota

 it is important to know the exact meaning of the

nomenclatural name of such a partner and how it
was formed (adjective, genitive noun, etc)
Names Originating from Languages Other
than Latin or Greek

 Only Latin gender endings are permitted.

Greek endings must be transformed into Latin
ex. simbae from the East African Swahili
word simba (for a Mycoplasma spp.)

 National foods or fermentation products

forming a neuter substantive from them by
adding -um ( ex. Sake – sakeum; tofu – tofuum);
or genitive of that (ending –i)
ex. Sake – sakei; tofu - tofui
Arbitrary Names

 The basis for arbitrary names may be taken from

any source and may even be composed in an
arbitrary manner’. They must, however, be treated
as Latin.
ex. Cedecea – CDC (Centers for Disease Control)
Afipia - AFIP (Armed Forces Institute of
Names of Taxa above the Rank of Genus
up to and including Order

The name of a taxon above the rank of genus

up to and including order is a substantive or an
adjective used as a substantive of Latin or
Greek origin, or a latinized word. It is in the
feminine gender, the plural number, and
written with an initial capital letter
Ex. Family: Staphylococcaceae
Names of Taxa above the Rank of Order

The name of each taxon above the rank of order is

a Latin or latinized word. It is based by choice on a
combination of characters of the taxon or from a
single character of outstanding importance
Ex. Class - Bacilli
Names of Taxa between Subclass and Genus

Formed by the addition of the appropriate suffix to

the stem of the name of the type genus
Table 1Suffixes for Categories

Rank Suffix Example

Order -ales Pseudomonadales

Suborder -ineae Pseudomonadineae

Family -aceae Pseudomonadaceae

Subfamily -oideae Pseudomonadoideae

Tribe -eae Pseudomonadeae

Subtribe -inae Pseudomonadinae

Names of Genera and Subgenera

Singular number and written with an initial capital

letter. The name may be taken from any source and
may even be composed in an arbitrary manner.

contain nouns of masculine, feminine and neuter


Ex. masculine gender: - Lactobacillus

feminine gender – Shigella
neuter gender - Flavobacterium
The name of a subgenus, when included with the
name of a species, is placed in parentheses along
with the abbreviation subgen. between the generic
name and specific epithet.
ex. Bacillus (subgen. Bacillus Cohn 1872,
174) subtilis
Names of Species

The name of a species is a binary

combination consisting of the name of the
genus followed by a single specific epithet.

If a specific epithet is formed from two or

more words, then the words are to be joined.
ex. Salmonella typhi murium =
Salmonella typhimurium
must be treated in one of the three following
ways: (a) as an adjective that must agree in
gender with the generic name; (b) as a
substantive (noun) in apposition in the
nominative case; (c) as a substantive (noun) in
the genitive case.

Examples: (a) Staphylococcus aureus

(adjective: ‘golden’); (b) Desulfovibrio gigas
(nominative noun: ‘the giant’); (c)
Escherichia coli (genitive noun: ‘of the
No specific or subspecific epithets within the
same genus may be the same if based on
different types

Example: Corynebacterium
helvolum (Zimmermann 1890) Kisskalt and
Berend 1918 is based on the type of Bacillus
helvolus Zimmermann 1890; the specific
epithet helvolum cannot be used
for Corynebacterium helvolum Jensen 1934,
another bacterium whose name is based on a
different type
Names of Subspecies

The name of a subspecies is a ternary

combination consisting of the name of a genus
followed by a specific epithet, the abbreviation
"subsp." (subspecies), and finally
the subspecific epithet.

Example: Bacillus cereus subsp. mycoides

No two subspecies within the same

species or within the same genus may
bear the same subspecific epithet
“Every being devotes and dedicates
itself to some innate purpose. Single
cells, microbes, plants, insects,
animals---every being makes its own
unique contribution.”
-Julie J.