"Names, especially those ascribed to organisms, serve as a primary entry point into the scientific, medical, and technical literature and figure prominently in countless laws and regulations governing various aspects of commerce, public safety and public health. These names also serve as a primary entry point into many of the central databases that the scientific community and the general public now rely upon." G.M. Garrity and C. Lyons: Future-proofing biological nomenclature.
There is no official classification of prokaryotes, but the names given to prokaryotes are regulated by the International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria (Bacteriological Code) and its successors (International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes).
The Code states that the name of a taxon is validly published, and therefore has standing in nomenclature, if certain criteria are met. In addition to valid publication of a name, the Code also states that only correct names are to be used, i.e. based on valid publication, legitimacy, and priority of publication.
In January 2000, names of prokaryotes changed at a rate approaching 750 validly published names every year. This rate even increased since then. Keeping up with changes in prokaryotic nomenclature has always been difficult. "List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature" was conceived as a solution to this problem. It provides accurate information about the current status of a name, synonyms, and other useful information. Readers may want to have a look at the total numbers of collected names.
List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature includes, alphabetically and chronologically, the nomenclature of prokaryotes and the nomenclatural changes as cited in the Approved Lists of Bacterial Names or validly published in the International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology (IJSB) or in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (IJSEM). A hierarchical classification that can be browsed is proposed for all taxa (except for the rarely used categories). Published classifications are indicated in the notes for the rarely used categories. If available, alternative published classifications are indicated in the notes for the taxa of all categories. Some of these alternative assignments may be of historical interest only. A literature reference is provided for virtually all assignments of a taxon name to a parent taxon.
The citations of names are in the correct format according to the Code, and the nomenclatural types are provided. Abbreviations and addresses of collections from which designated type strains are available are listed alphabetically on the page about culture collections of prokaryotes. As far as possible, the GenBank/EMBL/DDBJ accession numbers for the 16S rRNA gene sequences of type strains are indicated. Basonyms and synonyms are included to clarify the previous names or histories of individual taxa.
The List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature is extensively annotated to clarify the rules which govern the scientific nomenclature. The reader is particularly encouraged to have a look into the LPSN glossary.
The names in this list are "valid" only in the sense of being validly published as a result of conformity with the Rules of Nomenclature. The inclusion of a name on this list is not to be construed as taxonomic acceptance of the taxon to which the name is applied. Indeed, some of these names may, in time, be shown to be synonyms, or the organisms may be transferred to another genus, thus necessitating the creation of a new combination.
The names which are to be used are those which are correct in the opinion of the bacteriologist (especially a combinatio nova or a nomen novum) and a particular name does not have to be adopted in all circumstances; it is possible for two or more validly published names to remain in use. For example, a bacteriologist can use the names Corynebacterium pyogenes or Actinomyces pyogenes or Arcanobacterium pyogenes or Trueperella pyogenes according to her scientific judgement, providing that their use is in accordance with the Rules.
Among a set of names in accordance with the rules of the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes, the List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature selects certain taxon names as the ☞ correct name. Correct names are shown in bold face in search results and on the hierarchy pages. Their taxonomic status is accordingly indicated on the taxon pages.
Many not validly published names can also be found in LPSN. They can easily be recognized as such because they are placed in ☞ quotation marks and obtain an according nomenclatural status. LPSN does not claim to be able to provide a complete list of not validly published names of Prokaryotes, and such an endeavour seems to be impossible indeed. Readers who wish to have a taxon name included in LPSN are encouraged to provide a literature reference for this name to the authors or, even better, use the submission form. Our main search for not validly published names went back until 1960, although we are certainly far from being complete. Names from before 1960 may occur on LPSN depending on factors such as whether or not we already had the original publication and how easy it was to extract the description. LPSN also shows all non-validly published basonyms of names listed in the 1980 Approved Lists.
Infrasubspecific subdivisions, taxa above the rank of class, and the status Candidatus are not covered by the Rules of the Bacteriological Code (1990 Revision). However, a list of domains, phyla and rarely used categories is provided, some of which are above the rank of class. A colour scheme is is used to indicate each of the frequently used categories. As of 2021, the category phylum is also covered by the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes. Candidatus names can be found via the hierarchical classification and the general search.
More information on nomenclature is found on a dedicated page.
Navigating the List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature is supposed to be easy.
The List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature is continuously updated. With respect to validly published names the database will be updated with the publication of each new issue of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (IJSEM). But information on not validly published names is usually updated independently of IJSEM. Up-to-date numbers of taxon names are available on the LPSN statistics page.
As says Le Gros, cited by Buchanan et al. (Index Bergeyana, Williams & Wilkins Company, Baltimore, Md, 1966, pp. VII-XII), "Dans ce genre de travail il est presque impossible de ne pas faire d’erreurs..." (In this kind of work it is very difficult to avoid errors). So, the authors would greatly appreciate factual information concerning any errors or corrections for this list.