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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Salinas, California » Crop Improvement and Protection Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #221030

Title: Demystifying the Nomenclature of Bacterial Plant Pathogens

item Bull, Carolee
item DE BOER, S
item DENNY, T
item FIRRAO, G
item STEAD, D

Submitted to: Journal of Plant Pathology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/29/2008
Publication Date: 10/1/2008
Citation: Bull, C.T., De Boer, S.H., Denny, T.P., Firrao, G., Fischer-Le Saux, M., Saddler, G.S., Scortichini, M., Stead, D.E., Takikawa, Y. 2008. Demystifying the Nomenclature of Bacterial Plant Pathogens. Journal of Plant Pathology. 90:403-417.

Interpretive Summary: The control of bacterial plant pathogens is fundamental to providing high quality food and fiber to consumers. Disease control is dependant upon understanding what organisms are causing the diseases. Bacterial plant pathogens are grouped and named according to our understanding of their similarities and relationships. Rules of nomenclature ensure that as research alters our understanding of relationships among bacteria, the names of the bacteria follow a logical progression that can be followed by scientists, regulators and the public. This manuscript describes how and why the names of plant pathogenic bacteria change with novel classification systems. We provide insight into bacterial nomenclature that should increase access to the available scientific literature about plant pathogenic bacteria.

Technical Abstract: A unified approach to bacterial names ensures accurate communication among scientists, regulators and the public. Rules for nomenclature ensure that changes to names of taxa follow a logical progression that maintains the integrity of the previous nomenclature while replacing it with new proposals based on additional scientific inquiry into relationships among organisms. To guide their work, phytopathologists rely on the rules set forth in the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes, and in the International Standards for Naming Pathovars of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria. The lists of validly published names and corresponding type strains available in Approved Lists of Bacterial Names and in subsequent lists of validly published names in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology) provide a framework for determining the priority for which names should be applied in novel classifications. Additional lists including those for pathovar names and pathotype strains maintained by ISPP Committee on the Taxonomy of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria, help scientists to identify novel classifications systems and their associated nomenclature. This manuscript attempts to clarify several key points to avoid common pitfalls by explaining application of the rules and the standards. Changes in the classification of bacteria often involve the revision of commonly used names. Confusion arises because although there are rules for the correct publication of names there are no official criteria for approaches and methods used to develop the classification schemes or to determine whether a new classification is an improvement and therefore should or must be used. Each individual researcher must choose the most appropriate classification to use after careful review of the data proposing the various schemes. The application of the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes in isolation of the International Standards for Naming Pathovars of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria result leads to a lack of continuity in the nomenclature of plant pathogenic bacteria that adds unnecessary confusion. Closer alignment of the nomenclature of the taxa covered by these documents is needed to insure continuity and clarity.