Prokaryotic names: The bold and the beautiful

Aharon Oren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In recent years, names of ∼170 new genera and ∼1020 new species were added annually to the list of prokaryotic names with standing in the nomenclature. These names were formed in accordance with the Rules of the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes. Most of these names are not very interesting as specific epithets and word elements from existing names are repeatedly recycled. The rules of the Code provide many opportunities to create names in far more original ways. A survey of the lists of names of genera and species of prokaryotes shows that there is no lack of interesting names. The annotated selection presented here proves that at least some authors have exploited the possibilities allowed by the rules of the Code to name novel organisms in ways that are more attractive. I here call upon all colleagues who describe new taxa to devote more thought to the naming of new genera and species. It takes some effort, and it requires proper use of the lexicon of Classical Greek and Latin as well as an understanding of the Code and the guidelines of its orthography appendix. Creation of attractive names will boost the general interest in prokaryotic nomenclature.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberfnaa096
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number17
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 FEMS.


  • Greek
  • Latin
  • Prokarotic Code
  • etymology
  • names
  • nomenclature


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