Frequently asked questions
Here we have compiled general answers to questions users had about LPSN. For explanations of terms and abbreviations and for information on specific topics please see the LPSN glossary.
How should LPSN requests be made?
We are asking users to report LPSN requests via the contact form and to choose an appropriate subject. Requests may be questions, error reports, feature requests or other kinds of statements. An appropriate subject assists us in properly dealing with your request. The subject categories are as follows.
Graphical user interface. This category should be chosen if you are satisfied with some LPSN content but you opine that this content should be displayed in a different manner, or that a distinct kind of presentation of the content should additionally be offered. These would be feature requests. Alternatively, you can send us an error report if you believe that the presentation of the content leads to misunderstandings or is unsatisfactory in some other manner.
Missing taxon name. You should choose this category if you fail to find a certain taxon name in LPSN. Prior to sending us an error report about a missing name, please make sure you understand which taxon names are to be expected in LPSN and since which point in time. This is explained in a separate FAQ entry. Asking us for including a certain taxon name may in many cases rather be regarded a a feature request, which is also explained in a distinct FAQ entry. Requesting LPSN to prefer a certain taxonomic opinion over another one, i.e. to regard another name a the ☞ correct name, should not be assigned to the "missing taxon name" category but to one described below.
Missing statement. This category should be chosen if you believe some relevant information to be missing in LPSN but it is not a missing taxon name. Depending on the kind of information a message in this category could be understood as error report or feature request. Please see below for information that can be temporarily missing and should thus not immediately be reported as a problem. User-defined non-mandatory statements can well be included in LPSN, usually as ☞ notes. For instance, there is a separate FAQ entry about how we can include your publication in LPSN.
Inaccurate statement. This LPSN category is frequently confused with the next one. In a literature-driven database such as LPSN, virtually all statements are linked to a literature source. If an LPSN statement is linked to a literature source that does not make that statement, LPSN is inaccurate, irrespective of whether or not the linked statement is accurate. A correction of LPSN is needed in that case. If an LPSN statement is linked to a literature source that actually makes that statement, LPSN is accurate, irrespective of whether or not the linked statement is accurate. If the linked statement is inaccurate, LPSN should also be modified, of course, but in that case by adding a hint regarding the erroneous statement found in the literature. Such an explicit clarification is preferable to completely removing some inaccurate literature statement, as researchers may still independently stumble over that error in the sources. LPSN does a lot of checking but we cannot detect all errors ourselves. An error in LPSN is not necessarily an error of LPSN – although errors made by LPSN can certainly occur.
These considerations are also of relevance for the taxonomy preferred by LPSN. The ☞ International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (ICNP) regulates nomenclature but does not regulate classification. For this reason, LPSN is not forced to prefer a certain taxonomic solution over another one, as long as both are compatible with the ICNP. In particular, LPSN does not need to adopt the most recently published taxonomic arrangement. Users are urged to take this into account and to not report deviating taxonomic opinions as an inaccuracy. Instead, the next category of requests should be used in such situations.
Alternative taxonomic opinion. This is virtually always a feature request, as opposed to an error report. As detailed above, LPSN does not need to prefer certain taxonomic solutions over others just because they were more recently proposed. Users are encouraged to ask for modifications of the taxonomic classification used by LPSN. However, users are also asked to not confuse the occurrence of alternative taxonomic views with actual inaccuracies. LPSN preferences of certain taxonomic arrangements over others may benefit from explicit justifications. This can be done in LPSN notes and may be a valuable outcome even if the LPSN maintainers chose to not immediately modify the LPSN classification in response to a user request.
Why is a taxon name missing from LPSN?
This depends on the name and on the point in time. At a given time point a taxon name can be missing from LPSN for one of the following reasons.
For including taxon names from your own publications please see the FAQ entry below.
- The name is the name of a eukaryote and thus beyond the scope of LPSN.
- The name is the name of a cyanobacterium validly published under the Botanical Code (ICN). Such names are of interest for LPSN although they do not belong to the core data set. Users are encouraged to send us requests for the inclusion of such names. However, LPSN does not guarantee that such names are incorporated after a given maximum time period.
- The name is not ☞ validly published under the ☞ ICNP and not validly published under the ICN. Such names are of interest for LPSN although they do not belong to the core data set. Users are encouraged to send us requests for the inclusion of such names. However, LPSN does not guarantee that such names are incorporated after a given maximum time period.
- The name has only recently been ☞ validly published under the ☞ ICNP. This should not normally be reported.
- The name is ☞ validly published under the ☞ ICNP since quite some time. This may well be an error and should better be reported. (Note that we deliberately do not define here what "since quite some time" means, as this is supposed to change over time.)
Can you include my publication in LPSN?
Publications listed in LPSN are either original proposals of taxon names, formal ☞ emendations of descriptions of taxon names, or publications related to notes. A publication with a proposal of a taxon name or emendation can be added only if:
Publications with proposals of taxon names or emendations will be exchanged only if the wrong publication is given in LPSN.
A publication related to a note can be added at any time provided a statement is given that can serve as an informative new note, refers to a specific taxon name and originates from that publication. If you are aware of such a publication please send us the taxon name, the suggested text of the note if applicable, and the DOI or a link to the PDF file of that publication.
Note that a description of a strain that is not accompanied by the proposal of a taxon name will not be considered for inclusion.
- it proposed a taxon name – including ☞ Candidatus or any other name that is not ☞ validly published – that is not yet listed in LPSN;
- it makes an emendation that is not yet listed in LPSN.
Why is the full information on the species within a genus not displayed on the page of the genus any more?
The new design was chosen to prepare for the future of LPSN and to create a sustainable structure for collecting and displaying an increasing amount of information over time. Having one page per taxon name throughout irrespective of the taxonomic category should make navigation through LPSN easier for users.
Individual LPSN pages for genus names used to list the full information for all their species names (and subspecies names, if any). For navigation downwards one needed to scroll through potentially a lot of text. But because of past, present and future additions over time (new species in same genus, emendations of genus or species, synonyms, notes etc.) it seemed advisable to generate more pages instead of longer pages. It also appeared to be a straightforward and consistent design to create one page per taxon name throughout. Because the pages for all individual taxon names now have the same structure irrespective of the taxonomic category it should be rather easy to learn how to navigate through LPSN. However, all the species belonging to a genus are listed under the child taxa section of the genus entry.
In addition, it is now possible to move from one species of a certain genus to another species of that genus by using the "siblings" button in the upper right corner. Having each species on its own page means more clicking but having all species of a genus on a single page would mean more scrolling. Navigation using the "parent" and "children" buttons should also be straightforward and intuitive.
Where can I find the hierarchical classification?
Information on the hierarchical classification is available as:
- list of parent taxa, in order, visible on the category pages (Domain to Species) if you click on the arrowhead on the left side or on "Open all lineages" (unless there is no immediate parent taxon);
- list of child taxa visible on the category pages (Domain to Species) if you click on "Show [child category] list ..." or on "Open all [child category] lists" (unless there are no child taxa);
- entry for the parent taxon on each page for a single taxon name (unless there is no parent taxon);
- list of child taxa on each page for a single taxon name (unless there are no child taxa);
- navigation option "parent" in the upper right corner on each page for a single taxon name (unless there is no parent taxon);
- navigation option "siblings" in the upper right corner on each page for a single taxon name (unless there are no sibling taxa);
- navigation option "children" in the upper right corner on each page for a single taxon name (unless there are no child taxa).
What are "child taxa", "parent taxa", and "siblings"?
An in-depth explanation is provided in the ☞ LPSN glossary. In brief, the term "child taxon" means that some taxon belongs to the category below a given taxon in terms of a hierarchical classification from domain down to subspecies. So for a family, the child taxa would be its constituent genera; for a genus, the child taxa would be its constituent species, etc. Conversely, the "parent taxon" of a species would be a genus, the parent taxon of a genus would by a family, etc. The "siblings" of a species would by other species in the same genus, the siblings of a genus would be other genera in the same family, etc.
The navigation menu at the top right of each taxon entry has "parent – siblings – children" - so, for a genus "parent" would be the link to the entry of the family to which it belongs, "siblings" would be list of links to the entries for other genera in the same family, and "children" would be the list of links to the entries for the species in that genus.
Where can I find the geographic origin of strains?
The geographic origin and other source information for strains can be found in BacDive either by searching there directly or by following the BacDive link in the LPSN species entry when available ("See detailed strain information at BacDive").
Is it possible that LPSN genera lack species?
Yes, temporarily. LPSN attempts to display information as soon as possible once it has achieved a certain degree of completeness and underwent a certain number of checks. This may yield entries for genera that are not yet linked to an entry for a species, families that show no genera, orders that show no families, etc. Such entries should not be read as an indication of really missing child taxa. For analogous reasons LPSN generates stubs or placeholders for parent taxa.
The only alternative is to postpone the display of parent taxa until all expected child taxa can be displayed, and to postpone the display of child taxa until their parent taxa have been entered. This approach would create problems of its own.
Is it possible that LPSN taxon names lack nomenclatural types?
Yes. Most ☞ nomenclatural types are missing only temporarily. LPSN attempts to display information as soon as possible once it has achieved a certain degree of completeness and underwent a certain number of checks. This may yield entries for taxon names that do not yet list a nomenclatural type. Such entries should not be read as an indication of an actually missing type. If the nomenclatural type of a ☞ validly published name is actually missing (rendering the name ☞ illegitimate), this will be explicitly indicated. Such indications may not be made for names that are not validly published.
The only alternative is to postpone the display of taxon names until the nomenclatural type can be displayed. This approach would create problems of its own.
Is it possible that synonyms are not mentioned?
Yes, temporarily. LPSN attempts to display information as soon as possible once it has achieved a certain degree of completeness and underwent a certain number of checks. This may yield entries for taxon names that are not yet linked to an entry for a synonym although this entry is present in LPSN. The link will usually be made in short time but may initially be missing.
The only alternative is to postpone the display of taxon names until all synonyms have been linked. This approach would create problems of its own.
Is it possible that the year of an authority changes?
Unfortunately, yes. The problem is related to "online first" or other preliminary publications that do not indicate the final volume, issue, and/or page numbers. In such cases the year of the first online publication may differ from the year of the final volume. Since the final year cannot be predicted with certainty from the first online publication, LPSN initially uses the year of the first online appearance of some paper and may later on be forced to update the year. This is annoying but in the view of the LPSN maintainers it is not a problem that is caused by LPSN. Also note that PubMed behaves in the same way, as publication years given in PubMed entries can get updated for apparently the same reason.
The only alternative is to postpone the display of a taxon name until the final version of the citation gets published by the journal. This approach would create problems of its own.
Such updates of publication details may also cause changes of volume, issue or page numbers. LPSN uses 0 as placeholder for volume, issue or page numbers that are as yet missing.
Is it possible that taxon names in publication titles or etymologies are not written in italics?
LPSN attempts to display information as soon as possible once it has achieved a certain degree of completeness and underwent a certain number of checks. This may yield publication titles that do not yet display taxon names in italics. The formatting will usually be made in short time but may initially be missing. The only alternative is to postpone the display of publications until all included taxon names have been formatted. This approach would create problems of its own.
Names of non-bacterial taxa and incorrectly spelled names of bacterial taxa are deliberately not written in italics in publication titles. We believe the cost-benefit ratio of such extensive formatting attempts to be too high.
Names of bacterial or other taxa in explanations of etymology entries are deliberately not written in italics. Here italics is reserved for the explained words.
Can LPSN supply strains?
No, LPSN cannot supply strains. (Not even DSMZ strains.) However, LPSN does list type strains of taxa and where possible links directly to those strains in culture collections that have online catalogues – strains can be ordered directly from these collections.
Is it possible that a type-strain deposit indicated on LPSN is not accessible any more?
LPSN primarily aims at accurately representing literature data. Alleged type-strain deposits found in the literature can later on well turn out to be not viable any more, or to not correspond to the description of their species or subspecies, or to be contaminated. Fixing such issues in a proactive way is beyond the scope of LPSN (and beyond our resources, for that matter). We are happy to include information from the according collection or from the scientific literature about the need to delete records of type-strain deposits. If you have proof for such cases, please let us know. This particularly holds if the lack of deposits puts a name in danger of not being validly published.
Please do not send questions about the accessibility of deposits primarily to LPSN. Instead, please first contact the according collection or the authors who proposed the type strain. For instance, DSMZ provides a list of curators to contact about their deposits.
Where can I find general information on Candidatus names?
In the LPSN ☞ glossary. All Candidatus names are accessible using the advanced search while Candidatus phyla are compiled on a separate page.
Is there a list of taxonomic changes for a certain year?
While there is no list of taxonomic changes as such, one can use the advanced search by selecting "validly published" and "correct name" and entering the year of interest into the authority field. The result comes pretty close to the list of taxonomic changes published in that year.