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How are bacteria named?

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Quick Answer

The naming of bacteria is done according to the binomial system introduced by Carl Linnaeus. A bacterium has a genus name, which indicates the genus to which it belongs, and a species epithet. Epithets identify subordinate units within a genus. The genus name and the species epithet together form the scientific name, or the species name, of the bacterium. The name is formed using Latin or Latinized Greek words.

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Full Answer

"International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria" is the book that contains the strict international rules for the naming of bacteria. Before the acceptance of a proposed name of a species of bacteria, the rules require the publication of a scientific paper on the species and the approval of the paper by an international taxonomy committee. The scientific name is always written in italics. The naming of a bacterial genus is often simplified by the use of trivial names, which are not written in italics or with a capital first letter. Lactobacilli, staphylococci, mycobacteria, salmonella and streptococci are some trivial names. Never use the trivial name of a complete genus for referring to a specific bacterial species. It is sometimes essential to divide a bacterial species into subspecies. A subspecies epithet is used for introducing a subspecies. The epithet is indicated by writing ssp. or subsp. in front of it.

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