Naming unnamed bacteria in the era of big data

(2022). DOI: 10.1099/ijsem.0.005482″ width=”800″ height=”530″/>

Schematic workflow for creating and assigning arbitrary Latinate names. The chords created from the Latin letters were selected and arranged to exclude unwanted components and meaningful words. It was combined with Latin suffixes or words to create names, which were then used to name placeholder classes in GTDB files and to create scripting protocols. attributed to him: International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (2022). DOI: 10.1099/ijsem.0.005482

In a paper recently published in International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary MicrobiologyResearchers in the United Kingdom and Austria have named more than 65,000 different species of microbes. The study, led by Professor Mark Palin at the Quadram Institute in Norwich, builds on a long tradition of creating well-formed but random Latin names for new species, but applies this approach to a scale unprecedented in taxonomy history.

Professor Palin argues that microbiology is a victim of his own success, with tens of thousands of new species It has been discovered in recent years – yet most of them remain nameless. In the past, bacteria were called descriptive names or were named after people or places. This approach currently offers about a thousand new Ocean names per year. However, with well over 50,000 well-classified but unnamed species, at this rate of progress, it would take at least half a century to name all these unnamed bacteria—and in that time, scientists would have the problem of naming the millions of other species discovered in the meantime. .

Palin and colleagues adopted an effective approach, high productivityA big data approach, using a computer program to create tens of thousands of distinct but easy-to-use names that are unlike any existing words. To comply with the requirement that bacteria names be in Latin, the team combined random strings of letters from the Latin alphabet with grammatically well-formed feminine suffixes. The result is a group of names that recall the familiarity and heaviness of Latin, although they lack any meaningful lineage. Examples include Dupisella tifacia for a bacterium from the intestines of sheep, Hopelia gocarosa for a bacterium that lives in Swedish groundwater or Saxicetta apufaria from a Russian salt lake.

Although this may sound drastic, in fact arbitrarily forming names has a long tradition, stretching back to the first code of taxonomic nomenclature in 1869 and even going back to the father of taxonomy, the Swedish naturalist Linnaeus. What’s different here is the staggering meaning of the scale, with an index of names spanning more than ten thousand pages in what represents the largest ever naming of a species in a single publication.

Since they were applied to species discovered by DNA sequencing but not yet grown in a lab, for now the new names remain somewhat tentative. However, since the naming code insists that bacteriologists aim to stabilize the names and there are no competing approaches to large-scale naming in place, it seems likely that the vast majority of the new names will be used for years or even centuries to come.

In conclusion, Palin says, “I was a member of the working group that gave us Greek letters for the COVID variants, which were quickly adopted by the scientific community. I hope that the names suggested here will also be adopted and used more widely. This is just the first step. Age of Discovery Microbes aren’t done yet, but it will be easy to create future collective names using the principles we’ve laid out here.”


Automated system to generate 1 million new bacteria names


more information:
Mark J. Pallen et al, Anonymous nomenclature: More than 65,000 Candidatus names for bacteria and unnamed bacteria in the Genome Taxonomy Database, International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (2022). DOI: 10.1099/ijsem.0.005482

Presented by Quadram Institute

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