Microbial Taxonomy Run Amok.

Affiliation

Sanford RA(1), Lloyd KG(2), Konstantinidis KT(3), Löffler FE(4).
Author information:
(1)Department of Geology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
(2)Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA.
(3)School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and School of Biological Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA.
(4)Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA; Center for Environmental Biotechnology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA; Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA; Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA; Biosciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

DNA sequencing has led to an explosion in discovery of microbial phylogenetic novelty, especially that represented by uncultivated taxa, to which the traditional system of prokaryotic taxonomy has not adapted. A lack of expansion of the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (ICNP, 'the Code') to effectively capture this information has created a 'wild west' situation where names are published or appear in popular reference databases without further verification or validation. The rapid propagation of variant and questionable naming methods has led to widespread confusion and undermines prior accomplishments. We exemplify inconsistencies that have arisen from this practice and endanger the interoperability of scientific findings. The immediate solution to this problem is to develop and adopt universal best practices that are accepted by expert researchers, major publishers, the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes (ICSP), and international microbiological societies.