Strain, clone and species: comments on three basic concepts of bacteriology

J Med Microbiol. 2000 May;49(5):397-401. doi: 10.1099/0022-1317-49-5-397.


Different aspects of the terms strain, clone and species are discussed. The term strain is commonly used to denote a pure culture - here called 'the strain in the taxonomic sense' - but does also refer to a natural concept closely related to the clone. The term clone on the other hand is used both in a general and in a more restricted sense, the latter indicating a low degree of genetic exchange. The important distinction between the definition of a species and the criteria for a species is emphasised and the main kinds of criteria are considered.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Clone Cells
  • Humans
  • Terminology as Topic*