New DNA-based nomenclature system proposed for single-celled organisms 


The proposed methodology aims to deal with the limitations of current practices.

The proposed methodology aims to deal with the limitations of current practices.

In a recently published in natural microbiologyscientists have proposed a new way of naming unicellular organisms, or prokaryotes, that uses genome sequences as species of nomenclature.

So far, regulations for naming prokaryotes are defined in the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (ICNP), but this existing system requires new species to be grown in a laboratory and at least two live or frozen samples of the microorganism submitted. Most prokaryotes are not available as pure cultures and therefore cannot be named according to ICNP regulations SeqCode: a nomenclature code for prokaryotes described from sequence data research work said.

What are prokaryotes?

Prokaryotes are the smallest life form that can survive on its own. These small organisms, mostly unicellular, lack a defined cell nucleus or cell organelles due to the lack of inner membranes.

Prokaryotes are divided into two domains: bacteria and archaea.

The International Code of Prokaryote Nomenclature and its Limitations

The International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (ICNP) is an updated version of the 1990 revision of the Bacteriological Code.

It was published in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology in 2019. Under these rules, scientists must grow the type of prokaryotes in the lab and submit a “type” culture. According to the UK Health Security Agency, a type strain is the strain on which the description of a species is based. This requirement has “hindered the development of a nomenclature for uncultured and sophisticated cultured prokaryotes,” said researchers proposing the SeqCode.

A description of the species must also be published in a scientific journal and accepted by the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes (ICSP), which administers the ICNP.

Named prokaryotes account for less than 0.2% of the total. The exclusion of the uncultured majority means that a sizeable portion of prokaryotes remain poorly ordered, often given synonymous names or alphanumeric codes.

What is SeqCode?

SeqCode, formally The Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes Described from Sequence Data, uses genomic sequence data as a common factor to represent both cultured and uncultured microorganisms, while keeping the priority rules similar to those of the ICNP. The SeqCode also recognizes the priority of names validly published under the ICNP rules, provided they do not violate the priority of names published under the new system.

SeqCode Registry is a registry web portal that records and validates names and nomenclature types and associates them with metadata. A draft version of the register is already available, and all of its public data is accessible and reusable under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License unless otherwise noted.

There are currently two ways to register and validate names through the SeqCode registry, but according to researchers, the best scenario would involve entering and verifying data before publication through a pre-registration process that takes place prior to initial submission or re-submission Manuscript. This allows SeqCode Registry to perform automated checks and provide curator input.

SeqCode ways

SeqCode Ways | Photo credit: natural microbiology

Why is SeqCode needed?

Scientists believe that the ICNP’s unique limitations on viable and accessible type strains have distanced a number of microbiologists and normalized the publication of names outside of its regulation. SeqCode solves this problem by providing an “easy-to-use resource that serves the common interests of the broader research community,” the research paper states. The authors also believe that SeqCode promotes “discoverability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability” and its interoperable data structures will support the sharing of SeqCode names in research communities.

  • Prokaryotes are the smallest life form that can survive on its own. These small organisms, mostly unicellular, lack a defined cell nucleus or cell organelles due to the lack of inner membranes.

  • The SeqCode also recognizes the priority of names validly published under the ICNP rules, provided they do not violate the priority of names published under the new system.

  • Scientists believe that the ICNP’s unique limitations on viable and accessible type strains have distanced a number of microbiologists and normalized the publication of names outside of its regulation.



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