Changing Bacterial Names

Rhodococcus equi
Close-up of colonies of Rhodococcus equi cultivated on bovine blood agar. The length of the scale bar is equivalent to 5 mm.

The scientific names of bacteria are changed from time to time and some of them, several times. This may cause confusion, but one should keep in mind that any bacterial name that has been validly published for a certain species may be used in scientific literature. The names must be unique and linguistically correct. Furthermore, they should preferably reflect the relation to closely related species, by having the same genus name. Systematic bacteriology is a rapidly developing scientific field and new pieces of knowledge are continuously obtained. Therefore, recently validly published scientific bacterial names are more likely to reflect the true properties of the bacterium, than older names.

One example of a bacterium that has caused confusion is Rhodococcus equi. There has been an ongoing debate since the1980s, if this bacterium should not be called Rhodococcus hoagii or Prescottella equi, which both have been validly published. In VetBact we have chosen to use Rhodococcus equi because the veterinarians in our area were not very happy with the other names.

In the list of bacterial names in VetBact, you can only find Rhodococcus equi. However, if you perform a Quick Search in VetBact and use the other names of this bacterium, you will arrive at the correct species. This also applies for other bacteria that have more than one validly published name.

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