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Microbiology's new names: a glossary.

Starting with aerobic bacteria, this series of reference guides on changing nomenclature for microorganisms thoroughly updates the valuable resource that MLO published in 1980.

Well, here we go again with another list of taxonomic changes in microbiology. Revisions occur almost dally, and controversy lingers over new and old names, so keeping up with current nomenclature is a neverending task.

It seems as though microbiology laboratories need a full-time technologist just to modify report formats, educate laboratorians, and enlighten physicians about the new nomenclature. The changes in taxonomy frustrate all of us, but when journals, books, and proficiency survey organizations begin using the new names, we must do the same.

This three-part series will cover developments since MLO published Dr. Paul Ellner's compendium, "Updated Microbiology Terminology: A Glossary," in May 1980. Part I, which follows, u dates names for aerobic bacteria. In succeeding months' issues, Part II will deal with anaerobic bacteria, and Part Ill with fungi, parasites, mycobacteria, and viruses.

The "Approved Lists of Bacterial Names," published by the International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology (IJSB) in January 1980, set priorities for names that were established between May 1, 1753, and the present day. The aim of these lists was to include only valid entries and eliminate the confusion of previously proposed names of uncertain authenticity. Names that do not appear on the lists are no longer recognized by committees on bacterial nomenclature.

All proposals for new taxa or changes in nomenclature must be published in the IJSB, or "in another journal with a reprint sent to the IJSB. Once approved, the accepted changes are published in an IJSB list entitled "Validation of the publication of new names and combinations previously effectively published outside the IJSB."

Most current changes in taxonomy, whether modifications of existing names or the creation of new names, are based on the determination of genetic relatedness or DNA homology. With these studies of nucleic acid hybridization or DNA hybridization, it becomes possible to compare the total DNA and measure the number of DNA sequences that are held in common between any two organisms.

One can also approximate the percentage of divergence or unpaired nucleotide bases within related DNA sequences. This is considered the most reliable method to generate species definition because it is not subject to phenotypic variation, mutations, or the presence or absence of metabolic pathways or plasmids. Once they are completed, these DNA studies should stabilize taxonomy and minimize changes in the future.

The following is by no means a complete list but rather a compilation of the newer, more clinically significant organisms. I hope it will help answer the question put to every microbiologist: "I've never heard of this organism-what is it'?"

The author is supervisor of the bacteriology I section in the clinical microbiology aboratory at UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles. He would like to thank David A Bruckner, Lynne S. Garcia, Janet A. Hinder, M, John Pickett, Don J. Brenner, Sydney M Finegold, Ronald J Zabransky, Karla Tomfohrde, Diane Nikolai, and Deborah Granger for their help in preparing the terminology update.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:part 1
Author:Colonna, Paul J.
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:glossary
Date:May 1, 1989
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