A plea for linguistic accuracy - also for Candidatus taxa

Int J Syst Evol Microbiol. 2017 Apr;67(4):1085-1094. doi: 10.1099/ijsem.0.001715. Epub 2017 May 5.


While all names of new taxa submitted to the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, either in direct submissions or in validation requests for names effectively published elsewhere, are subject to nomenclatural review to ensure that they are acceptable based on the rules of the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes, the names of Candidatus taxa have not been subjected to such a review. Formally, this was not necessary because the rank of Candidatus is not covered by the Code, and the names lack the priority afforded validly published names. However, many Candidatus taxa of different ranks are widely discussed in the scientific literature, and a proposal to incorporate the nomenclature of uncultured prokaryotes under the provisions of the Code is currently pending. Therefore, an evaluation of the names of Candidatus taxa published thus far is very timely. Out of the ~400 Candidatus names found in the literature, 120 contradict the current rules of the Code or are otherwise problematic. A list of those names of Candidatus taxa that need correction is presented here and alternative names that agree with the provisions of the Code are proposed.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Terminology as Topic*