When should a new name be used?

David R. Boone boone at ese.ogi.edu
Mon Apr 28 09:58:04 EST 1997

The original question was "when should a new name be used?" but the answers
describe "when is a new name valid?"  These are two very different
questions, because a name may be legal (valid) but inappropriate
taxonomically.  The Bacteriological Code defines valid names and the rules
governing their validity, but appropriateness is a matter of taxonomic

One of the requirements for a name to be valid is publication in the
International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology, either as an article
describing a new taxon, or (if the description is published elsewhere) on a
validation list.  The only requirement for being included on a validation
list is the name must be formed according to the rules, including having
been published. Absolutely no taxonomic judgement is applied when drawing
up this list.  For instance, one taxonomist may think a certain species
contains two groups of strains that should be classified into two separate
species, and he can publish a paper proposing so, giving a new name for the
(new) second species.  This new name may be legitimate and appear on a
validation list.  However, another taxonomist may disagree and consider
that all these strains more properly belong in the first species.  This
second taxonomist has the right to ignore the new name.  Although the new
name is legitimate (legal) her taxonomic judgement tells her that this
"species" is really part of the other pre-existing species.

Does this mean that every microbiologist must be a taxonomist in order to
use names properly?  Well, yes.  But there is guidance!  That's where
taxonomy manuals such as Bergey's Manuals are useful.  Here you can find
the judgement of taxonomic experts, reviewed by other taxonomic experts. 
For taxonomic changes made since the last available manual, you must rely
on your judgement or seek the advice of the experts on taxonomy of those

dave boone
David R. Boone
Professor of Environmental Microbiology
Oregon Graduate Institute, Portland

> enevold.falsen at alinks.se wrote:
> > 
> > 1. If published in Int J Syst Bacteriol you should change the
> > name at once. The name is automatically validated. If you are not
> > a taxonomist yourself, to avoid errors (sometimes the taxonomy is
> > difficult), wait for the next issue of IJSB and check with the:
> > 'Notification that New Names and New Combinations Have Appeared
> > in Volume XX, No X, of the IJSB.'
. . . 

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