The current status of cyanobacterial nomenclature under the “prokaryotic” and the “botanical” code

Aharon Oren*, Stefano Ventura

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Cyanobacterial taxonomy developed in the botanical world because Cyanobacteria/Cyanophyta have traditionally been identified as algae. However, they possess a prokaryotic cell structure, and phylogenetically they belong to the Bacteria. This caused nomenclature problems as the provisions of the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN; the “Botanical Code”) differ from those of the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (ICNP; the “Prokaryotic Code”). While the ICN recognises names validly published under the ICNP, Article 45(1) of the ICN has not yet been reciprocated in the ICNP. Different solutions have been proposed to solve the current problems. In 2012 a Special Committee on the harmonisation of the nomenclature of Cyanobacteria was appointed, but its activity has been minimal. Two opposing proposals to regulate cyanobacterial nomenclature were recently submitted, one calling for deletion of the cyanobacteria from the groups of organisms whose nomenclature is regulated by the ICNP, the second to consistently apply the rules of the ICNP to all cyanobacteria. Following a general overview of the current status of cyanobacterial nomenclature under the two codes we present five case studies of genera for which nomenclatural aspects have been discussed in recent years: Microcystis, Planktothrix, Halothece, Gloeobacter and Nostoc.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1257-1269
Number of pages13
JournalAntonie van Leeuwenhoek
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.


  • Cyanobacteria
  • Gloeobacter
  • Halothece
  • Nomenclature
  • Nostoc
  • Planktothrix


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