Scientists unveil new system for naming majority of the world’s microorganisms

Scientists unveil new system for naming majority of the world’s microorganisms

Fluorescent-stained micro organism (pink) and archaea (inexperienced) from near-boiling water from Great Boiling Spring in Gerlach, Nevada. Credit: Jeremy Dodsworth

What’s in a reputation? For microorganisms, apparently lots.

Prokaryotes are single-celled microorganisms—micro organism are an instance—which can be considerable the world over. They exist within the oceans, in soils, in extreme environments like sizzling springs, and even alongside and inside different organisms together with people.

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In brief, they’re in all places, and scientists worldwide are working to each categorize and talk about them. But this is the rub: Most haven’t got a reputation.

Less than 0.2% of recognized prokaryotes have been formally named as a result of present laws—described within the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (ICNP)—require new species to be grown in a lab and freely distributed as pure and viable cultures in collections. Essentially, to call it you must have a number of bodily specimens to show it.

In an article printed Sept. 19 within the journal Nature Microbiology, a workforce of scientists current a brand new system, the SeqCode, and a corresponding registration portal that would assist microbiologists successfully categorize and talk in regards to the huge variety of recognized but uncultivated prokaryotes.

“Our goal is to unite field and laboratory studies in microbiology and respond to significant recent advancements in environmental genomics by providing a path to formally name the majority of identified yet unnamed prokaryotes,” mentioned UNLV microbiologist Brian Hedlund, lead writer on the paper and key collaborator on the event of the SeqCode. “The SeqCode should serve the community by promoting high genome quality standards, good naming practice, and a well-ordered database.”

Creating the SeqCode

Nearly 850 scientists representing a number of disciplines from greater than 40 international locations participated in a sequence of NSF-funded on-line workshops in 2021 to develop the brand new SeqCode, which makes use of genome sequence data for each cultivated and uncultivated prokaryotes as the premise for naming them.

Since the 2000s, scientists who research prokaryotes in environments everywhere in the world have used environmental genomics methods to pattern and research them, and lots of of 1000’s of genome sequences can be found in public databases. The group collaborating within the workshops, which had been organized by Hedlund and colleague Anna-Louise Reysenbach from Portland State University, overwhelmingly supported the event of an alternative choice to the ICNP that will settle for DNA sequence information and in the end enhance sources for researchers.

“The key pieces are in place for an orderly expansion of prokaryotic systematics to the entire prokaryotic tree of life,” mentioned William B. Whitman, SeqCode corresponding writer and University of Georgia microbiologist. “This expansion will serve the research and the broader community by providing a common language for all prokaryotes that is systematically organized and supported by data-rich genomic datasets and associated metadata.”

To qualify for inclusion within the SeqCode, genomes should meet rigorous scientific requirements to make sure high quality, stability, and open information sharing. And, although it isn’t but universally accepted, the SeqCode basically aligns with established worldwide rules for naming different organisms, together with crops and animals.

“Any organism with a high-quality genome sequence—from a pure culture or not—can be named under the SeqCode,” mentioned Hedlund. “We will also automatically accept all names formed under the ICNP. I expect through time that the SeqCode will be used much more frequently than the ICNP.”

Creating Clarity Amongst Chaos

One of the first objectives for the brand new system, authors argue, is to reverse a development within the area the place “unregulated” names are utilized in literature out of necessity. This can result in errors that improve the probability of subsequent renaming afterward, making it troublesome for scientists to assessment and evaluate information and talk successfully. Conversely, authors argue that the SeqCode “embraces findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability principles.”

Hedlund referenced Chlamydia and associated organisms for example. Since these organisms cannot be grown, saved, or distributed as pure cultures, they’re at present unable to be formally named.

“It could be pretty confusing for clinicians to not have valid names for newly discovered chlamydiae,” says Hedlund. “There’s a risk of those names being poorly cataloged, which could stifle tracking of disease outbreaks and communication among scientists, doctors, and the public.”

Overcoming Controversy

Despite its supposed objective to create readability and synergy with accepted requirements for naming, the transfer is just not with out controversy.

The SeqCode follows a earlier try by scientists to change the ICNP to permit uncultivated prokaryotes to be named primarily based on having a DNA sequence that will function the proof (or ‘kind’) for the organism—versus the ICNP guidelines now which require a tradition into two everlasting collections.

In 2020, a workforce led by Desert Research Institute biologist Alison Murray printed a paper, additionally in Nature Microbiology, that was co-authored or endorsed by practically 120 scientists representing 22 international locations calling for motion on the proposed modifications of the ICNP to simply accept DNA sequences as varieties or to go an alternate route. However, the proposed modifications had been rejected by the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes, the group accountable for governing the naming of prokaryotes.

“It is clear that the global community of scientists is ready for a paradigm change in how we name prokaryotes—to be inclusive of the breadth of prokaryotic life,” mentioned Murray. “Modern genome technologies can resolve genomes of uncultivated organisms at the high degree of precision needed to ensure integrity and provide stability to the field of microbiology. Naming these taxa is the way to communicate their existence, their evolutionary history and predict their physiological capabilities.”

The 2020 setback led to a redoubling of efforts among the many rising cadre of scientists and, in the end, the “alternative route” which led to the formation of the SeqCode.

“Many people came to the table to share their perspectives, their energy, and their skills to make it happen,” mentioned Hedlund. “The response to our workshops from scientists all over the world was incredible and helped validate why the time has come to formally make a change in how prokaryotes are named.”

Tension nonetheless exists amongst some scientists, who argue that much less will be recognized about uncultivated prokaryotes than these that may be grown and manipulated in a lab as pure cultures. Additionally, nuances in processing and decoding DNA sequence information might doubtlessly result in faulty conclusions, a degree that Hedlund claims can be true of research of pure cultures.

The authors say this new system is just not supposed to discourage conventional cultivation of prokaryotes, however as an alternative is designed by the scientific group to enhance communication throughout the microbial sciences.

“We view this ‘SeqCode v.1.0’ as a necessary first step toward a unified system of nomenclature to communicate the full diversity of prokaryotes and we will cooperate with the community toward the realization of this vision,” authors write.

The paper, “SeqCode: a nomenclatural code for prokaryotes described from sequence information” was printed Sept. 19 within the journal Nature Microbiology.

Scientists propose new naming system for uncultivated bacteria and archaea

More info:
Brian P. Hedlund et al, SeqCode: a nomenclatural code for prokaryotes described from sequence information, Nature Microbiology (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41564-022-01214-9

Learn extra in regards to the SeqCode at

Scientists unveil new system for naming majority of the world’s microorganisms (2022, September 21)
retrieved 21 September 2022

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