What’s in the name of an Organism?
A case study of Chenopodium album Linn.
Author: Promila Kapoor-Vijay*
PBK-2100:A platform for Probioknowledge
14, Chemin Colladon, Geneva, CH-1209, Switzerland
An organism is an individual entity that exhibits the properties of life. It is a synonym for “life form”. They can be unicellular, multicellular, and can be aggregated as a colony.
Organisms are grouped together into taxa and defined based on their characteristics.
The system of naming species was first developed by Swedish botanist and physician, Carolus Linnaeus in the mid 1700s. Linnaeus is the father of the branch of biology called taxonomy, which seeks to describe, name and classifies organisms. His system of naming species, still in use today, begins with assigning all species a two-part Latin name called a binomial. The first word of the binomial is the genus name of the species, and the second word is the specific epithet for the species. For example (see figure above), the scientific name for the blue crab is Callinectes sapidus. Callinectes, the genus name, is the collective term which includes many species of crabs closely related to the blue crab. The specific epithet, sapidus, describes exactly which of the Callinectes species is being identified.
*Following Identification codes have been devised to provide identifiers for species, like:
(1)National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) employs a numeric ‘taxid’ or Taxonomy identifier, a “stable unique identifier”, e.g., the taxid of H. sapiens is 9606.
(2)Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) employs a three- or four-letter code for a limited number of organisms; in this code, for example, H. sapiens is simply hsa.
(3)UniProt employs an “organism mnemonic” of not more than five alphanumeric characters, e.g., HUMAN for H. sapiens.
(4)Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) provides a unique number for each species.
(5) The LSID for Homo sapiens is urn:lsid:catalogueoflife.org:taxon:4da6736d-d35f-11e6-9d3f-bc764e092680:col20170225.
A Case study of a plant species, Chenopodium album Linn., is used here to illustrate value and conflicts associated with names.
This plant species is highly diverse and is widely distributed, and is known commonly as a nuisance weed of the crop fields. It also grows wild, in disturbed habitats in both urban and rural settings all over the world, and some of its forms are popular as a leafy vegetable and/or as a grain crop. Different names are given to describe its plants, and is still very difficult to taxonomically identify its various ecological, morph-ecological populations distinctly as Chenopodium album Linn. Recently Devi and Chungroo(2015) have stated this is due to more interest in the cultivated species of Chenopodium. Earlier work of Kapoor(1985, 2012) has referred to this conflict.
The name and classification( wikipedia,2017 of the species is given below:
Chenopodium album Linn.
Familia: Amaranthaceae s.l.
Cladus: Chenopodiaceae s.str.
Species: Chenopodium album
Subspecies: C. a. subsp. album – C. a. subsp. borbasii – C. a. subsp. iranicum – C. a. subsp. pedunculare
Name: Chenopodium album L. (1753)
According to Clemants, S.E. & Mosyakin, S.L.(2003), C. album is a loosely arranged aggregate of still insufficiently understood races, with hundreds of segregate microspecies and infraspecific entities (including nomenclatural combinations).
Atriplex alba (L.) Crantz (1766)
Botrys alba (L.) Nieuwl. (1914)
Heterotypic (ref. Uotila 2011:)
Chenopodium diversifolium (Aellen) F. Dvořák, in Scripta Fac. Sci. Nat. Univ. Purkyn. Brunensis, Biol. 16: 10. 1986
Chenopodium album subsp. diversifolium Aellen, in Bot. Not. 1928: 209. 1928
Chenopodium reticulatum Aellen, in Bot. Not. 1928: 205. 1928
Chenopodium album subsp. reticulatum (Aellen) Greuter & Burdet, in Willdenowia 13: 282. 1984
Chenopodium glomerulosum Rchb., Fl. Germ. Excurs.: 579. 1832
Chenopodium griseochlorinum F. Dvořák, in Feddes Repert. 105: 426. 1994
Chenopodium lanceolatum Willd., Enum. Pl.: 291. 1809
Chenopodium neoalbum F. Dvořák, in Feddes Repert. 103: 66. 1992
Chenopodium paganum Rchb., Fl. Germ. Excurs.: 579. 1832
Botrys pagana (Rchb.) Lunell, American Midland Naturalist 4(7): 305. 1916.
Chenopodium viride L., Sp. Pl.: 219. 1753
Atriplex viridis (L.) Crantz, Institutiones Rei Herbariae 1: 207. 1766
Blitum viride (L.) Moench, Methodus (Moench) 359. 1794
Chenopodium viridescens (St.-Amans) Dalla Torre & Sarnth., Fl. Tirol 6(2): 109. 1909
Chenopodium album subsp. fallax Aellen, in Bot. Not. 1928: 208. 1928
Chenopodium album subsp. ovatum Aellen, in Bot. Not. 1928: 209. 1928
(additional synonym species by The Plant List, 2016)
Anserina candidans (Lam.) Montandon
Chenopodium agreste E.H.L.Krause
Chenopodium bernburgense (Murr) Druce
Chenopodium bicolor Bojer ex Moq.
Chenopodium borbasiforme (Murr) Druce
Chenopodium browneanum Schult.
Chenopodium candicans Lam.
Chenopodium catenulatum Schleich. ex Steud.
Chenopodium concatenatum Willd.
Chenopodium × densifoliatum (Ludw. & Aellen) F. Dvořák
Chenopodium elatum Shuttlew. ex Moq.
Chenopodium laciniatum Roxb.
Chenopodium leiospermum DC.
Chenopodium lobatum (Prodán) F. Dvořák
Chenopodium missouriense Aellen
Chenopodium neglectum Dumort.
Chenopodium opulaceum Neck.
Chenopodium ovalifolium (Aellen) F. Dvořák
Chenopodium paucidentatum (Aellen) F. Dvořák
Chenopodium probstii Aellen
Chenopodium pseudoborbasii Murr
Chenopodium riparium Boenn. exMoq.
Chenopodium serotinum Ledeb., nom. illeg. (later homonym)
Chenopodium subaphyllum Phil.
Chenopodium superalbum F. Dvořák
Chenopodium vulgare Gueldenst. ex Ledeb..
Chenopodium vulpinum Buch.-Ham., nom. inval.
Chenopodium zobelii Murr ex Asch. & Graebn., nom. inval.
Vulvaria albescens Bubani
Linnaeus, C. von 1753. Species Plantarum, Tomus I: 219.
Crantz, H.J.N.v. 1766. Institutiones Rei Herbariae 1: 206.
Nieuwland, J.A. 1914. American Midland Naturalist 3(9): 276.
Uotila, P. 2011. Chenopodiaceae (pro parte majore). Chenopodium album In: Euro+Med Plantbase – the information resource for Euro-Mediterranean plant diversity.
Clemants, S.E. & Mosyakin, S.L. ‘eFloras 2008. Chenopodium album in Flora of North America. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
International Plant Names Index. (2016). Chenopodium album. Published on the Internet. Accessed Mar. 3 2016.
The Plant List (2016). Chenopodium album in The Plant List Version 1.1. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2016 Mar. 3.
Tropicos.org 2016. Chenopodium album. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2016 Mar. 3.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network(2006). Chenopodium album in the
Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service.
Jashmi, Devi R K., and Churunugoo, N. Journal of Applied Biology and Biotechnology Vol. 3 (06), pp. 029-033, Nov-Dec, 2015 Species relationships in Chenopodium quinoa and Chenopodium album on the basis of morphology and SDS-Page profiles of soluble seed proteins.
Pratap,Tej and Kapoor Promila.(1985) Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment
Volume 14, Issues 3–4, Pages 185-199
Address for communication-Dr Mrs. Promila Kapoor-Vijay (my ID name is Dr. Mrs. Promila Kapoor), PBK-2100:*Email: Fax:0041227885858, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Affiliated scientist: Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Switzerland.Twitter account; @kapoorvijayP and @probio3.