What is the proper format for genus and species names in latin?

What is the proper format for genus and species names in latin?

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When using the latin nomenclature for a fish in printed materials (such as Sander vitreus for walleye), what is the correct capitalization of each word?

In this example, should 'S' be uppercase only, or both 'S' and 'V' be upper/lower case?

The correct latin nomenclature is Sander vitreus, with the genus capitalized and the species name in lowercase. This is known as binomial nomenclature.

Carl Linnaeus chose to use a two-word naming system [… ] binomial nomenclature scheme, using only the genus name and the specific name or epithet which together form the whole name of the species. For example, humans belong to genus Homo and their specific name is sapiens. The first letter of the first name, the genus, is always capitalized, while that of the second is not, even when derived from a proper noun such as the name of a person or place.

Some scientific naming conventions:

Classification example (for Homo sapiens):

Latin Plant Names Explained: Guide To Botanical Plant Names

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but it sure could lead to confusion. Plants can have multiple common names, and a case of mistaken identity may lead to incorrect advice and unwanted purchases. In this article, we’ll explain all about latin plant names and how these reduce confusion and help growers better understand their plants.

What is the purpose of latin plant names? A formal naming system was developed to uniquely and meaningfully identify every plant. Latinized names offer information about a plant’s classification, origins, and characteristics. This universally adopted system has rules that govern how these names are officially assigned and updated.

Terminology: genus and species

Copyright 1999, National Gardening Association.
All Rights Reserved.

A genus is a group of related plants. The similarity among members of a genus may or may not be obvious. But taxonomists have determined that, due to certain features, these plants are related and thus classify them in the same genus. Genus names are often derived from Latin or Greek words, mythological figures, or plant characteristics.

The species name is the basic unit of classification. It describes one kind of plant within the genus, and is almost always an adjective. By itself, the species name is meaningless. For example, Digitalis purpurea is the botanical name for foxglove, while Echinacea purpurea is the name for purple coneflower. The species name, purpurea, indicates only that some part of the plant is purple by itself it gives no clue to the identity of the plant.

Just what criteria are used to separate out individual species? This is a difficult question to answer precisely. Generally speaking, a species is a type of plant having certain characteristics that differentiate it from other members of the genus, and which retains these distinctions through successive generations. Individuals of different plant species often cannot interbreed—though, unlike for animals, this is not a reliable criterion for defining a species in the plant world.

Information on the thousands of plant groups and hundreds of thousands of species continues to accumulate. As a result, plant classifications are sometimes modified to reflect new information about plant relationships. In addition, it is often up to individual botanists to determine when a group of plants is different enough from others in the genus to constitute designation as a unique species.

Let’s look at one interesting plant species: Brassica oleracea.

You’ve probably grown some of what are commonly referred to as the brassicas—especially since this group of plants has been in the news for its reputed health-promoting properties.

So, which type of brassica does Brassica oleracea refer to? Broccoli? Cauliflower? Cabbage? Kale? Collards?

Well, the answer is "yes." All these vegetables are classified under the same species name. They have common ancestry in a type of wild mustard, and have been bred by horticulturists to the various forms they now have. This brings us to an important point. If plant classification of wild plants is a confusing matter, it is even more so with highly-bred, domesticated crop plants. Through careful cross-breeding and selection, horticulturists have "created" all these familiar vegetables from the same wild ancestor.

What is the proper format for genus and species names in latin? - Biology

Latin biological names in English speech are usually pronounced with English letter sounds. For example, virus is pronounced "vye-rus" in English, but would have been pronounced "weeros" in the Latin of ancient Rome. An Anglo-Latin pronunciation has been in use for centuries, and incorporates features of late Roman dialects that differ from Classical Latin.

Latin taught in schools for the reading of Classical poetry employs a 1st Century pronunciation, for example, Cicero is "kickero" and Caesar is "kysar." Many, or most, Latinate biological terms had not yet been invented in that era.

By contrast, spoken Latin was quite different during the post-1500 heyday of anatomy and taxonomy, for example, many European regional dialects, including English Latin, incorporated a soft-"c", a Romance soft-"g", and altered sound values of "v", "ti", "ae", "oe", etc.

Regional European Latin pronunciations were strongly influenced by analogy with the native tongue, and the Anglo-Latin long-"i" and long-"a", as in "sinus" and "nasal," are particularly idiosyncratic, although the English pronunciation is more faithful to classical syllabic stress compared to some European dialects.

Today, an Anglo-Latin pronunciation survives in the many Latinate biological names that permeate the English language (biceps, Geranium, rhinoceros) and this pronunciation is usually applied by English-speakers to Latin scientific names. There is no "wrong" Latin dialect.

Several authors have identified rules that describe the traditional English pronunciation of Latin words. Usage varies among individuals and continues to evolve, but the descriptive rules serve as a convenient pronunciation benchmark.

Letter Sounds:
Letter sounds are as in English words (and therefore vary with dialect).

The digraphs AE and OE are treated as the letter E.

"LONG" English E as in me, we, be: Caesar, anaemia, caecum, aether, chamaeleon, larvae , vertebrae, foetus, amoeba, phoenix, diarrhoea.

"SHORT" English E as in met, wet, set: aesthetic, aestivate, aestuary haemorrhage, oesophagus, oestrogen.

The AE ending is found in many taxonomic names: dog family, Canidae, ("CAN-id-ee" not "caniday"), rose family, Rosaceae ("ro-SAY-see-ee"), cat subfamily, felinae ("fe-LINE-ee"), olive tribe, oleeae ("ol-EE-ee-ee"), etc.

[AE and OE are often now written simply as E: anemia, fetus, ameba, estrogen.]

C or G preceding AE or OE is pronounced as though followed by E:

Caesar = "seesar" caecum = "seekum" coelom = "seelom" algae = "aljee"

Note that NOT all AE and OE combinations are digraphs. The mosquito genus Aedes contains three syllables, a-e-des, "a-EE-dees."

CH is pronounced as K: chorus, echo, chrysanthemum.

TH as in thorax, thymus, thuja ("THOO-ja")

A final vowel is always voiced, as in flora, hero, Apollo.

fungi = "FUNJ-eye," i as in alibi, alkali cocci = "COCKS-eye," i as in alibi, alkali ovale = "oh-VAY-lee," e as in Simile, Daphne, hyperbole, anemone, Aphrodite, Chloe difficile = "dif-ISS-il-ee," (as in the bacterial species name Clostridium difficile, C. difficile -"see dif-ISS-il-ee"), e as in Daphne, hyperbole, anemone, Aphrodite, Chloe stapes = "STAY-peez" e as in Achilles, meninges, diabetes

Some initial consonants are silent when followed by a consonant.

pterosaur = "TER-o-saur" pseudopod = "SOO-do-pod" pneuma = "NEW-ma" gnathous = "NATH-ous" phthegma = "THEG-ma" chthamalus = "THAM-al-us" ctenoid = "TEN-oid" mnium = "NY-um" tmema = "MEE-ma"

Stress and Vowel length

English pronunciation conserves the classical Roman accent position (the penultimate law), but vowel length rules are unique, and are much more regular than those of Classical Latin.

NOTE: Traditional syllable division points may be modified on this page to better phoneticize the words.

1. Words of two syllables are stressed on the first syllable: Femur ="FE-mur" Sinus = "SI-nus" Rosa = "RO-sa"

(a) The vowel of the first syllable is short if followed by two or more consonants:

Comma (o as in cot) [Compare to coma, with one m, below] Fossa (o as in cot) Hosta (o as in cot) Rattus (a as in cat) Vespa (e as in met) Septum (e as in met) Cistus (i as in mit)

(b) The vowel of the first syllable is long if followed by a single consonant:

Coma (o as in go) [Compare to comma, with double-m, above] Ovis (o as in go) Rosa (o as in go) Crocus (o as in go) Vagus (a as in gate) Ramus (a as in gate) Fagus (a as in gate) Canis (a as in gate) Badis (a as in gate) Salix (a as in gate) Felis (e as in me) Femur (e as in me) Sedum (e as in me) Brevis (e as in me) Lepus (e as in me) Iris (i as in hi) Pinus (i as in hi) Plica (i as in hi) Crisis (i as in hi)

2. Words of more than 2 syllables:

(a) are stressed on the next to last syllable IF:

the vowel of that syllable is followed by two or more consonants (making the vowel short).

Maxilla = "mac-ZILL-a" Patella = "pa-TELL-a" Chlorella = "Klo-RELL-a" Lamella = "la-MELL-a" Medulla = "med-ULL-a" Laterallus = "lat-er-AL-us" (compare to lateralis, single l, below.) Tyrannus = tir-ANN-us" (compare to montanus, single n, below.) Narcissus = "nar-SIS-sus" Canadensis = "ca-na-DEN-sis" Macrophyllum = "mac-ro-FILL-um"

(b) are stressed on the next to last syllable IF:

the Classical Latin vowel was long (or transliterates to a Latin long vowel, for example, Greek eta and omega), including some digraphs. The vowel is treated as an English "long" vowel, e.g., saliva, arena. (Applies to many Latin inflectional suffixes: americanus, lateralis, alpinus, rosinae.)

Ultimatum = "ul-ti-MAY-tum" Maculata = "mac-you-LAY-ta" Hiatus = "hi-AY-tus" Ornatus = "or-NAY-tus" Umbellata = "um-bell-LAY-ta" Saliva = "sal-EYE-va" Sativa = "sat-EYE-va" Arena = "a-REE-na" Pectoralis = "pec-to-RAY-lis" Lateralis = "lat-er-AY-lis" (Compare to laterallus, double-l, above.) Montanus = "mon-TAY-nus" (Compare to tyrannus, double-n, above.) Brachialis = "bray-kee-AY-lis" Foramen = "fo-RAY-men" Lupinus = "lu-PIE-nus" Alpinus = "al-PIE-nus" Bovinae = "bov-EYE-nee" Homininae = "hom-in-EYE-nee" Hominini = "hom-in-EYE-nye" Hominina = "hom-in-EYE-na" Equisetum = "ek-wi-SEE-tum" Ctenopoma = "ten-op-OH-ma" Oenothera = "en-o-THEE-ra" Ureter = "you-REE-ter" Masseter = "ma-SEE-ter" Australopithecus = "Aus-tral-oh-pith-EE-cus" Duodenum = "du-oh-DEE-num" Chimaera = "ky-MEE-ra" [ae digraph] Amoeba = "am-EE-ba" [oe digraph] Haliaetus = "hal-ee-EET-us" [ae digraph]

(c) are stressed on the third to last syllable if 2a and 2b do not apply.

Animal = "AN-im-al" Camera = "CAM-er-a" Hyperbole = "Hi-PER-bol-ee" Rhinocerus = "rhi-NAW-ser-us" Esophagus = "es-OFF-ag-us" Geophagus = "jee-OFF-ag-us" Euphagus = "YOOF-ag-us" Eupoda = "YOOP-od-a" Bicolor = "BICK-ol-or" Archilochus = "ark-ILL-ok-us" Pardalis = "PAR-dal-is" Helostoma = "hel-OST-oh-ma" Stomata = "STOM-at-ah" Echinodermata = "e-ki-no-DER-mah-ta" Parenchyma = "pa-REN-kim-ma" Streptomyces = "strep-TOM-is-eez" Scleropages = "skler-OP-aj-ees" Troglodytes = "tro-GLOD-it-ees" Haematopus = "he-MAT-op-us" Alcyon = "AL-see-on" Clematis = "CLEM-ma-tis" Saccharomyces = "sac-ka-ROM-is-eez" Difficile = "dif-ISS-il-ee" Oxalis = "OX-al-is" Monticola = "mon-TIC-ol-a" Pterophyta = "ter-OFF-fit-a" Pterodroma = "ter-ODD-dro-ma" Bryophyta = "bry-OFF-fit-ta" Gastropoda = "gas-TROP-od-a" Copepoda = "co-PEP-od-a" Disporum = "DIS-po-rum" Chiroptera = "ky-ROP-ter-a" Epiphysis = "e-PIF-is-is" Cerebrum = "SER-eb-rum" Spermophilus = "sper-MOF-il-us" Sylvilagus = "sil-VIL-ag-us" Spilogale = "spi-LOG-al-ee" Hemionus = "hem-EYE-on-us" Hernandieae = "her-nand-EYE-ee-ee" Neotoma = "ne-OTT-om-a" Cyclamen = "SICK-la-men"

The stressed vowel is short (trisyllabic shortening rule) except: if U as in uterus, humerus, numeral, jugular if preceding a vowel (hemionus, Gaviidae) or if as in media, splenius, radius, planaria, phobia, mammalia, cepacia, rosaceae etc. (Stressed vowel - A, E or O - followed by a single consonant, then two or more vowels, of which the first is E, I or Y.) And note the "SH" sound that may be given to c and t followed by i: dementia, motion, Botia = "bosha", acacia = "akaysha", species = "speeshees".

Some double consonants (and "mute" consonants followed by l or r) are treated as single consonants (e.g., TH, PH, CH, BR, DR, TR, PL, QU):

Matrix = "MAY-trix" = Rule 1b rather than 1a. Sacrum = "SAY-crum" = Rule 1b rather than 1a. Zebra = "ZEE-bra" = Rule 1b rather than 1a. Glabrum ="GLAY-brum" = Rule 1b rather than 1a. Mitral = "MY-tral" = Rule 1b rather than 1a. Nigra = "NY-gra" = Rule 1b rather than 1a.

Vertebra = "VER-te-bra" = Rule 2c rather than 2a. Palpebra = "PAL-pe-bra" = Rule 2c rather than 2a. Agnatha = "AG-na-tha" = Rule 2c rather than 2a. Perognathus = "pe-ROG-na-thus" = Rule 2c rather than 2a. Zalophus = "ZAL-lo-fus" = Rule 2c rather than 2a. Enhydra = "EN-hid-dra" = Rule 2c rather than 2a. Callitriche = "ca-LIT-rik-ee" = Rule 2c rather than 2a. Veratrum = "ve-RAY-trum" = Rule 2b rather than 2c.

The letter X is treated as two separate consonants because it has a "KS" sound:

Axis, Taxus (short "a" as in cat) following Rule 1a rather than 1b. Chionodoxus (short "O" as in cot) following 2a rather than 2b

Commemorative names (eponyms):

Taxa may commemorate personal names or surnames such as Alice Eastwood's Daisy, Virginia's Warbler, and Wilson's Honeycreeper. These names are treated as Latinized possessive nouns (Alice's = aliciae, Wilson's = wilsoni).

The Latin inflection may alter the syllable to be stressed and may alter vowel length in the name, (Colwellia, from Colwell, Lawsonia, from Lawson). Although English letter sounds might be applied to non-English names, many speakers try to conserve the original. (Weisella was named for the German Norbert Weiss, which would have been be pronounced "Vice" in Germany). Echeveria (English "ekkevEEria") in the original Spanish would be

The classical accent may be determined by the Latin form of the name. For example, if the surname Wilson were Latinized as Wilsonius the pronunciation of wilsoni would be "wil-SO-nye." If Wilson were Latinized as Wilsonus, the pronunciation of wilsoni would be "WIL-so-nye." Archival records indicate inconsistency in latinization of names, so some flexibility exists in pronunciation, and there is precedent in both classical and modern Latin for conservation. Thus "WIL-so-nye" (Rule 2c ) is preferable to "wil-SO-ni," whereas andersoni is best treated as "an-der-SO-ni" rather than "an-DER-so-ni."

aberti = "a-BER-tye" = Rule 2a aliceae = "al-IS-ee-ee" = Rule 2c calderi = "CALL-de-rye" = Rule 2c hendersonii = "hen-der-SO-nee-eye" = Rule 2c lewisii = "lew-ISS-ee-eye" = Rule 2c virginiae = "vir-JIN-ee-ee" = Rule 2c

Certain contractions ending in -ic, -id, and -it retain the vowel quality of the original:

Gravid, (a as in cat) from gravidus [rather than Rule 1b] Tropic, (o as in cot) from tropicus [rather than Rule 1b] Cephalic, (a as in cat) from cephalicus [rather than Rule 2c] Hepatic, (a as in cat) from hepaticus [rather than Rule 2c]

Accentation of English contractions varies with suffix:

-POD, stressed third to last syllable:

Arthropod = ARTH-ro-pod
gastropod = GAS-tro-pod

-IC, stressed next to last syllable:

pacific = pac-IF-ic
cephalic = ce-FAL-ic
somatic = so-MAT-ic
exotic = ex-OT-ic

-ID, stressed third to last syllable:

annelid = AN-nel-id
hominid = HOM-in-id
salmonid = SAL-mon-id
elapid = EL-ap-id
colubrid = COL-u-brid

Some naturalists have advocated that scientific Latin pronunciation worldwide adopt the Latin taught in schools, a 1st Century BC pronunciation used to recreate the historic sounds of spoken poetry from that era. Letter sounds can differ greatly from English scientific Latin, and vowel length by position is irregular and more difficult to master. For example, Cicero is "kickero," Caesar is "Kysar," cervix is "kerwix," vertebrae is "wertebrye," major is "mahyoor," vagus is "wagos," Acer is "acker," Acacia is "akackia," Geranium is "gherahnium" (hard-G), Thuja is "Tooya," Vaccinium is "wakkeeniom," Rosa is

"rossa," crocus is "crockus," Mustela is "moostayla," Myotis is "moo-otis," malus (apple) is

"mallos," but malus (bad) is "mahlos." Some naturalists apply classical sound values to scientific names, and some employ hybrid pronunciations such as "fun-jee" for fungi. [The English pronunciation is "funj-eye" and the classical is

Selected References for English Scientific Latin
(Many more references are listed in Lexicon of British Columbia Mammals ($14.95), which can be ordered HERE).

Collins, A. 2012. The English Pronunciation of Latin: Its Rise and Fall. The Cambridge Classical Journal 58:23-57.

Chandler, C. 1889. Pronunciation of Latin and Quasi-Latin Scientific terms. Bulletin of the Scientific Laboratories of Denison University 4:161-176.

Else, G.F. 1967.The Pronunciation of Classical Names and Words in English. Classical Journal 62:210-214.

Kelly, H.A. 1986. Pronouncing Latin Words in English. Classical World, 80:33-37.

Key Words: Latin pronunciation, pronounce scientific names, Latin names, nomenclature, botanical names, zoological names, scientific Latin, Modern Latin, New Latin, bacteria.

A beginner’s guide to naming species in Latin

Every living thing on earth needs a name to identify it. There are many common names for animals (almost a different in every language) so that gets confusing quickly. For example, the house sparrow is called Haussperling, Town sparrow, Huismossie, Domovoy Vorobey, 家麻雀, Gorrión común, and so on. The Swedish biologist Carl Linnaeus solved this problem in 1753 by creating a universal code to identify any species.

This code is called binomial nomenclature because it has two parts. The first word is the genus which identifies a group of closely related species, the second word is to distinguish a particular species. This combination is unique for each living organism. Latin was the language of science in Europe at the time, which is why most of the words are Latin (though Greek is also used). The species name is always italicized when it appears in text. The genus name is capitalized while the species name isn’t. For example, the human species is called Homo sapiens.

Carl Linnaeus invented the naming system for species that we use today. Image credits: Nationalmuseum press photo.

The endings for the names are specific to gender, for example –us is masculine, -a is feminine, and –um is neutral. The suffix –is can be masculine or feminine and –e is neutral. Endings might vary around a core word. Therefore, actual species names may be a bit different from the forms listed below. Sometimes the words can be used on their own or as a prefix/suffix.

Whoever names a species (usually a biologist or scientist) can decide what they would like to name it. The most typical names are where the species originates from, a trait, a person, or miscellaneous origins.

Where they come from

One common way to name a species is by where they are found. This is, of course, an important trait that can differ between members of a genus.


Often species are named after the country/continent that they come from. Some are self-explanatory, like africanus, brasiliensis, europaeus, madagascariensis, and americanus. Some are a little less intuitive, such as indicus referring to species from India, japonica and nipponensis to Japan, and sinensis and chinensis to species from China. Aedes aegypti is the yellow fever mosquito from Egypt. Species can also be named after a more local area, such as a river, cave, or town.


Living organisms could also be named for the habitat that they are from.

alpinus: from the alps or alpine region

aquaticus: found near water

arena: having to do with sand

hali-, halio-: related to the sea or salt

hortensis: from the garden

The broad-leaved anemone, Anemone hortensis, is named such because it is very easy to cultivate. Image credits: Alexandre P.

silvestris: from wood or the forest

domesticus: from the house, domestic

troglodytes: a cave dweller

tropicalis: from tropical regions


Additionally, species can be named after a cardinal direction that they are found in. Borealis refers to the north, while australis or notos- refers to the south. Occidentalis refers to the west while orientalis refers to the east.

The oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis), is originally from around the Caspian and Black Seas. Image credits: gailhampshire.

A notable characteristic

One of the most common ways to name a species is based on some special characteristic that they have. For example, their colour, size, shape, or anything else that is noteworthy. They are many different possibilities and combinations, so here are a few of the most common.


Pigmentation is distinctive and can often be used. Interestingly, many of the names for colours in Latin aren’t so similar to their English counterparts, though some you may know from other languages or names.

argentum: silver (you might know this from argent in French)

aurantius, aurantiacus, cirrhus: orange

The golden jackal, Canis aureus, is named after the colour of its coat. Image credits: Prabukumar8 .

caeruleus: blue (you might know this from cerulean)

cyano: blue-green (you might know this from cyanobacteria)

fuscus: dark-coloured, dark brown

leuco-, leuc-: white (you might know this from leucocytes)

Size & Shape

The way an organism looks, such as its size or shape can also be a way to distinguish it.

Slender rush, Juncus tenuis, is named for its thin stem. Image credits: USDA.

Other features

There are many different features that can set a species apart. They can have to do with appearance, texture, smell, taste, and so on. There are many, many possibilities so this is just a little taste of what is out there.

lineatus, striatus: striped

The almond, Prunus dulcis, is called so because of it flavour. Image credits: antcaesar.

For example, the striped skunk is called Mephitis mephitis (Smelly smelly). Image credits: USFWS Mountain-Prairie.

Many of these characteristics can be used in conjunction with a noun to offer more description. For example, it could be used with folium or phyllus which mean leaf, such as Eriophorum angustifolium, narrowleaf cottongrass. Other examples that often have descriptors attached are noton which means back and odon which means tooth.

An important person

Another popular choice to name a species is after a person. Here there is a lot of leeway. It could be the original discoverer of the organism, someone who has contributed a lot in the field, a celebrity, or even a husband/wife or another family member. Sometimes species are named after notable figures due to admiration or resemblance. They can help to attract media attention to the species. For example, a moth was recently named Neopalpa donaldtrumpi because its scales on the top of its head resembled Mr. Trump’s hairstyle. On the other hand, Sir David Attenborough, the naturalist and documentarian, has been honoured with the most species (9) named after him in recognition for his work. They include the plesiosaur, Attenborosaurus conybeari, a wingless beetle Trigonopterus attenboroughi, and the flower genus Sirdavidia.

Neopalpa donaldtrumpi, do you see the resemblance? Image credits: Dr. Vazrick Nazari.


There is an assortment of other types of names that species are given to identify them. Some are simple, and actually their name in Latin, like canis (dog), arctos (bear), corax (crow, raven), ulmus (elm), and felis (cat).

Some organisms are named after mythological figures. For example, one genus of dung beetles is named Sisyphus after a king who was eternally damned in Hades to roll a heavy boulder uphill, to have it roll down every time. The wolf fish (Hoplias curupira) is named after Curupira, a character in Brazilian legends that protects the forest in the form of a small child with feet facing the wrong way so that it is hard to track. The fish got this name because it was extremely difficult to obtain enough material to describe it and it took almost 18 years.

This Sisyphus is also required to roll an object indefinitely. Image credits: Thomas Huntke.

Pop culture can also be inspiring. There are a number of species named after Star Wars and Harry Potter, including a mite with a resemblance to Darth Vader called Darthvaderum greensladeae, and a spider species named after its resemblance to the sorting hat, Eriovixia gryffindori. A crab was named doubley after the fantasy series, Harryplax severus as “an allusion to a notorious and misunderstood character in the Harry Potter novels, Professor Severus Snape, for his ability to keep one of the most important secrets in the story, just like the present new species which has eluded discovery until now, nearly 20 years after it was first collected” as the authors wrote in their paper. A snapping shrimp was named after the rock band Pink Floyd, Synalpheus pinkfloydi, for its loud sound, hot pink claw, and the researchers love for the band. There are other interesting names as well.

These are just a taste of the species names out there, but knowing the meaning or origin of them can help remembering them.

When an animal name is part of a journal article title, it is conventional to provide the animal’s scientific name (genus and species). Genus is always capitalized and species is not. Notice that the scientific names are also italicized (see examples on p. 105 of the APA Publication Manual). For example, see the following articles from APA Journals: This convention of including the scientific name in the paper’s title is not an APA Style guideline specified in the manual however, it is an accepted norm of scientific research. (If you have any questions about whether to include the scientific name in your paper or manuscript, ask your teacher, advisor, or editor.) So, if you cite an article that includes a genus and species in the title, how should the title appear in your reference list? Keep the italics and capitalization of the animal’s scientific name exactly as they appear in the original title: MacLean, E. L., Krupenye, C., & Hare, B. (2014). Dogs (Canis familiaris) account for body orientation but not visual barriers when responding to pointing gestures. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 128, 285–297. Tu, H.-W., & Hampton, R. R. (2014). Control of working memory in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition, 40, 467–476.


When an animal name is part of a journal article title, it is conventional to provide the animal’s scientific name (genus and species). Genus is always capitalized and species is not. Notice that the scientific names are also italicized (see examples on p. 105 of the APA Publication Manual).

For example, see the following articles from APA Journals:

This convention of including the scientific name in the paper’s title is not an APA Style guideline specified in the manual however, it is an accepted norm of scientific research. (If you have any questions about whether to include the scientific name in your paper or manuscript, ask your teacher, advisor, or editor.)

So, if you cite an article that includes a genus and species in the title, how should the title appear in your reference list? Keep the italics and capitalization of the animal’s scientific name exactly as they appear in the original title:

Section 6. Citation of Authors and Names

Proposal and Subsequent Citation of the Name of a New Taxon

Rule 33a

An author should indicate that a name is being proposed for a new taxon by the addition of the appropriate abbreviation for the category to which the taxon belongs.

Note 1. Appropriate abbreviations are: "ord. nov." for ordo novus, "gen. nov." for genus novum, "sp. nov." for species nova, "comb, nov." for combinatio nova. Similar abbreviations may be formed as required.

Note 2. Although words or abbreviations in Latin are usually printed in italics, such abbreviations as the above are frequently printed in Roman or boldface type when they follow a Latin scientific name in order to differentiate them from the name and draw attention to the abbreviation.

Examples: Order, Actinomycetales ord. nov. family, Actinomycetaceae fam. nov. genus, Actinomyces gen. nov. species, Actinomyces bovis sp. nov.

Rule 33b

The citation of the name of a taxon that has been previously proposed should include both the name of the author(s) who first published the name and the year of publication. If there are more than two authors of the name, the citation includes only the first author followed by "et al." and the year.

Example: Actinomyces bovis Harz 1877.

Note 1. Correct citation of a name enables the date of publication to be verified, the original description to be found, and the use of the name by different authors for different organisms to be distinguished.

Example: Mycobacterium terrae Wayne 1966, not Mycobacterium terrae Tsukamura 1966.

Note 2. Full citation of the publication should include reference to the page number(s) in the main text of the scientific work in which the name was proposed, not to the summary or abstract of that text even if proposal of the name is mentioned in that summary or abstract.

Example: Bacillus subtilis (Ehrenberg 1835) Cohn 1872, 174. The page number "174" is the page in Cohn's publication (Untersuchungen ﲾr Bacterien. Beitr. Biol. Pfl. Heft 2 1:127�) on which the proposal of the new combination occurs.

Rule 33c

If a name or epithet which was published prior to 1 January 1980 but not included in an Approved List is proposed by an author for a different or for the same taxon, the name or epithet must be attributed to the author of the proposal (Rule 28a), and the citation should be made according to Rules 33a, b, and 34a, b.

Note 1. If a name or epithet is revived for the same taxon (in the author's opinion), the author may indicate the fact by addition of the abbreviation "nom. rev." (nomen revictum) after the correct abbreviation (Rule 33a) for the category concerned.

Example: Bacillus palustris sp. nov. nom. rev.

Note 2. If an author wishes to indicate the names of the original authors of a revived name, he may do so by citation of the name of the taxon, followed by the word "ex" and the name of the original author and the year of publication, in parentheses, followed by the abbreviation "nom. rev."

Example: Bacillus palustris (ex Sickles and Shaw 1934) nom. rev. A subsequent author citing this revived name would use the citation Bacillus palustris Brown 1982, or Bacillus palustris (ex Sickles and Shaw 1934) Brown 1982.

Note 3. If an author wishes to indicate that a reused name has been used for a different taxon, indication is made by citation of the name and the author and year of publication followed by the word "non" (or "not") and the name and year of the publication of the author who first used the name.

Rule 33d

If a name is revived under Rule 33c it may be revived in a new combination that is, the revived species may be transferred to another genus, or the revived subspecies may be transferred to another species, at the time the name is revived. It is not necessary first to revive the name in the original combination.

Example: Bacillus palustris may be revived by Brown as a species of the genus Pseudomonas as Pseudomonas palustris (ex Sickles and Shaw 1934) nom. rev., comb. nov. A subsequent author could cite it as Pseudomonas palustris (ex Sickles and Shaw 1934) Brown 1982.

Proposal and Subsequent Citation of a New Combination

Rule 34a

When an author transfers a species to another genus (Rule 41), or a subspecies to another species, then the author who makes the transfer should indicate the formation of the new combination by the addition to the citation of the abbreviation "comb, nov." (combinatio nova).

This form of citation should be used when the author retains the original specific epithet in the new combination however, if an author is obliged to substitute a new specific epithet as a result of homonymy, the abbreviation "nom. nov." (nomen novum) should be used [see Rule 41a(l)]. The original name is referred to as the basonym.

Example: Actinomyces exfoliatus Waksman and Curtis 1916 Streptomyces exfoliatus (Waksman and Curtis 1916) comb. nov. (It was correctly cited this way by Waksman and Henrici in Bergey's Manual of Determinative Bacteriology, 6th ed., The Williams & Wilkins Co., Baltimore, 1948.)

Note 1. If an author transfers a species which has been included in the Approved Lists to another genus, the proposal of the new combination should be made by the addition of the abbreviation "comb, nov." (combinatio nova) followed in parentheses by the name under which it appeared in the Approved Lists.

Example: If Bordetella parapertussis appears in the Approved Lists 1980 and is transferred by Smith in 1983 to the genus Moraxella, the citation by Smith may be as follows: Moraxella parapertussis (Eldering and Kendrick 1938) comb. nov. (Bordetella parapertussis Approved Lists 1980). Another author citing this proposal would then use the citation: Moraxella parapertussis (Eldering and Kendrick 1938) Smith 1983 (Bordetella parapertussis Approved Lists 1980).

Rule 34b

The citation of a new combination which has been previously proposed should include the name of the original author in parentheses followed by the name of the author(s) who proposed the new combination and the year of publication of the new combination.

Example: Bacillus polymyxa (Prazmowski) Macé 1889 or Bacillus polymyxa (Prazmowski 1880) Macé 1889.

Note 1. The inclusion of the date of the publication of the original author of the name is to be preferred, although it is sometimes omitted since the date can be expected to be found in the publication of the author(s) who proposed the new combination.

Example: Bacillus polymyxa (Prazmowski 1880) Macé 1889 is to be preferred to Bacillus polymyxa (Prazmowski) Macé 1889.

Note 2. When, however, the author who formed the new combination was obliged to substitute a new specific epithet to avoid homonymy [see Rule 41a(l)], the name of the author of the original specific epithet is omitted.

Example: Streptamyces aurioscleroticus Pridham 1970 is correct, not Streptomyces aurioscleroticus (Thirumalachar el al. 1966) Pridham 1970 [see Example to Rule 41a(l) for explanation].

Rule 34c

When a taxon from subspecies to genus is altered in rank but retains its name or epithet, the original author(s) must be cited in parentheses followed by the name of the author(s) who effected the alteration and the year of publication.

Example: Actinomyces exfoliatus Waksman and Curtis 1916 to Actinomyces chromogenes subsp. exfoliatus (Waksman and Curtis 1916) Krasil'nikov 1941.

Citation of the Name of a Taxon whose Circumscription Has Been Emended

Rule 35

If an alteration of the diagnostic characters or of the circumscription of a taxon modifies the nature of the taxon, the author responsible may be indicated by the addition to the author citation of the abbreviation "emend." (emendavit) followed by the name of the author responsible for the change.

Example: Rhodopseudomonas Czurda and Maresch 1937 emend, van Niel 1944 (see Opinion 49).

Citation of a Name Conserved so as to Exclude the Type

Rule 36

A name conserved so as to exclude the type is not to be ascribed to the original author, but the author whose concept of the name is conserved must be cited as authority.

Example: Aeromonas liquefaciens, the original type species of the genus Aeromonas, has been excluded from Aeromonas (Opinion 48). The generic name Aeromonas is now attributed to Stanier 1943, not to Kluyver and van Niel 1936, and with a new type species, A. hydrophila.

Editing Tip: Scientific Names of Species

To help you understand the correct use of scientific species names, here are a few key terms and conventions that may appear in your journal’s guidelines for authors.

Robert Fagen, PhD

PhD, Biomathematics
Harvard University

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The effective communication of research results depends on the correct use of scientific nomenclature, including the names of biological species. To help you understand the correct use of scientific species names, here are a few key terms and conventions that may appear in your journal’s guidelines for authors:

Genus and species

The scientific nomenclature of biological species clearly identifies the organism named and the person who first named the species. The genus (always capitalized) and the species (not capitalized) are given in italics. For example, the Philippine brown deer is Rusa marianna, and the dove tree, found in parts of China, is Davidia involucrata.

When the same name is used more than once in a paper, the first letter of the genus (still capitalized) may be used as an abbreviation in the second and subsequent uses of the name, but the rest of the name is not abbreviated (R. marianna, D. involucrata). In particular, the name is commonly written out in full when it first appears in the abstract and then abbreviated in the rest of the abstract using the convention shown above. The name is again written out in full when it first appears in a subsequent section of the paper (typically, the introduction) and is then abbreviated upon further use.

Some journals may request a different convention for abbreviating the genus name upon subsequent use, so be sure to check the journal’s guidelines to see whether a particular usage is requested. In a few fields of study, two-letter abbreviations are used (i.e., Ae. aegypti for the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti).


The “authority,” or author (the person credited with the first formal use of the name), is formally included after the genus and species in the full version of the scientific name. For example, the full scientific name for the dove tree can be broken down like this: Davidia (the genus name) involucrata (the species name) Baill. (the abbreviation of Baillon, the French botanist who authored the name).

If the original name of the species has changed, the format is modified by placing the name of the original authority (and, for an animal name, the year of publication of the name by the original authority) in parentheses. For example, the Philippine brown deer, Rusa marianna, was originally described as Cervus mariannus by Desmarest in 1822. For this reason, this name appears as “Rusa marianna (Desmarest, 1822)” in print. The reason for the use of parentheses is that the genus name now used for this species of Philippine deer is not the same name that Desmarest originally published.

If the name of a plant, alga, or fungus has changed, in addition to the name of the original authority appearing in parentheses, the name of the person who made the change should be given. For example, the Brazilian orchid Cattleya purpurata was originally described as Laelia purpurata by Lindley and Paxton and later moved to the genus Cattleya by Van den Berg, so the name and authority became “Cattleya purpurata (Lindl. & Paxton) Van den Berg.” (By convention, as this is a botanical name, the year of publication is not included.)

Journal guidelines

Your journal’s guidelines may include a requested format for the authority or may ask that you follow current practice in your field. For example, the authority (and year, if the species is an animal) might only need to be mentioned once, but a journal might also specify the particular section of the paper in which the authority should be mentioned: the title, the abstract, the introduction, or the section containing the first use of the name in your paper.

Some details also depend on the type of organism. For example, the rules for the names of plants, algae, and fungi differ in certain details from the rules for the names of animals. There are five different taxon-specific codes for species naming, and your journal’s guidelines may mention the names of one or more of these codes: the ICZN, for animals the ICN (Melbourne Code), for plants, fungi, and algae the ICNCP, for cultivated plants the ICNB (BC), for bacteria and the ICTV, for viruses.

You may also see particular terms used to describe two-part names. Officially, “binominal” refers to two-part animal names, and “binomial” refers to two-part plant names.

We hope that today’s editing tip has clarified several conventions in the scientific naming of species. As always, please email us at [email protected] with any comments or questions. AJE wishes you the best in your research and writing!

How are Bacteria Named?

The International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes (ICSP) has created guidelines that explain the proper nomenclature or naming system for bacteria. This system is known as the Bacteriological Code. A bacterium has a binomial name that consists of two parts: the genus name, which indicates which genus it belongs to and the species epithet.

Related: Go on a reading marathon and learn the important aspects of academic writing. Check out this section now!

When referring to a bacterium in a paper, the writer should underline or italicize the names in the text. After writing the complete name of a microorganism in the first mention, the genus name can be shortened to just the capital letter.

The ICSP recommends spelling out the entire name of any bacteria again in the summary of your publication.

When discussing unnamed species, the abbreviation “sp.” is used to refer to a single unnamed species. Whereas “spp.” written after a genus refers to more than one unnamed species.

Bacteria are often divided into subspecies, which are indicated by subdivisions such as biovar, chemoform, chemovar, cultivar, morphovar, pathovar, serovar, and state.

These subdivisions should be written in plain text preceding an additional italicized or underlined name. For example, “Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viciae” would be correctly written as Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viciae.

Meaning of Latin Plant Names

For quick reference, this botanical nomenclature guide (via Cindy Haynes, Dept. of Horticulture) contains some of the most common meanings of Latin plant names that are found in popular garden plants.

alba White
ater Black
aurea Golden
azur Blue
chrysus Yellow
coccineus Scarlet
erythro Red
ferrugineus Rusty
haema Blood red
lacteus Milky
leuc White
lividus Blue-gray
luridus Pale yellow
luteus Yellow
nigra Black/dark
puniceus Red-purple
purpureus Purple
rosea Rose
rubra Red
virens Green
Origins or Habitat
alpinus Alpine
amur Amur River – Asia
canadensis Canada
chinensis China
japonica Japan
maritima Sea side
montana Mountains
occidentalis West – North America
orientalis East – Asia
sibirica Siberia
sylvestris Woodland
virginiana Virginia
Form or Habit
contorta Twisted
globosa Rounded
gracilis Graceful
maculata Spotted
magnus Large
nana Dwarf
pendula Weeping
prostrata Creeping
reptans Creeping
Common Root Words
anthos Flower
brevi Short
fili Threadlike
flora Flower
folius Foliage
grandi Large
hetero Diverse
laevis Smooth
lepto Slender
macro Large
mega Big
micro Small
mono Single
multi Many
phyllos Leaf/Foliage
platy Flat/Broad
poly Many

While it isn’t necessary to learn scientific Latin plant names, they may be of significant aid to the gardener as they contain information regarding specialized characteristics among similar plant species.

Watch the video: Τι είναι η αειφόρος ανάπτυξη? (January 2023).