Prokaryotic taxonomy and nomenclature in the age of big sequence data

Philip Hugenholtz*, Maria Chuvochina, Aharon Oren, Donovan H. Parks, Rochelle M. Soo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The classification of life forms into a hierarchical system (taxonomy) and the application of names to this hierarchy (nomenclature) is at a turning point in microbiology. The unprecedented availability of genome sequences means that a taxonomy can be built upon a comprehensive evolutionary framework, a longstanding goal of taxonomists. However, there is resistance to adopting a single framework to preserve taxonomic freedom, and ever increasing numbers of genomes derived from uncultured prokaryotes threaten to overwhelm current nomenclatural practices, which are based on characterised isolates. The challenge ahead then is to reach a consensus on the taxonomic framework and to adapt and scale the existing nomenclatural code, or create a new code, to systematically incorporate uncultured taxa into the chosen framework.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1879-1892
Number of pages14
JournalISME Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

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© 2021, The Author(s).


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