The next million names for Archaea and Bacteria

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Latin binomials, popularised in the 18th century by the Swedish naturalist Linnaeus, have stood the test of time in providing a stable, clear, and memorable system of nomenclature across biology. However, relentless and ever-deeper exploration and analysis of the microbial world has created an urgent need for huge numbers of new names for Archaea and Bacteria. Manual creation of such names remains difficult and slow and typically relies on expert-driven nomenclatural quality control. Keen to ensure that the legacy of Linnaeus lives on in the age of microbial genomics and metagenomics, we propose an automated approach, employing combinatorial concatenation of roots from Latin and Greek to create linguistically correct names for genera and species that can be used off the shelf as needed. As proof of principle, we document over a million new names for Bacteria and Archaea. We are confident that our approach provides a road map for how to create new names for decades to come.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-298
Number of pages10
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Issue number4
Early online date4 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


    Research areas

  • Candidatus, genome-based taxonomy, metagenome-assembled genomes, nomenclature

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