New York, Feb 22 IANS | 9 months ago

Here comes a new and revolutionary naming system for all life on earth that would create a more robust and precise name for any organism - be it a bacterium, fungus, plant or animal.

A Virginia Tech researcher has developed a new way to classify and name organisms based on their genome sequence and in doing so created a universal language that scientists can use to communicate with unprecedented specificity about all forms of life.

"Moving beyond the current biological naming system to one based on the genetic sequence of each individual organism, this would enhance and add depth to the naming convention developed by the godfather of genus - Carl Linnaeus," explained Boris Vinatzer, an associate professor in college of agriculture and life science at Virginia Tech.

Scientists worldwide have used the system that Linnaeus created for more than 200 years ago.

"Genome sequencing technology has progressed immensely in recent years and it now allows us to distinguish between any bacteria, plant, or animal at a very low cost," said Vinatzer.

"The mathematical world and the living world are a lot more closely related than we think," added co-author Lenwood Heath, a professor in department of computer science in college of engineering at Virginia Tech.

The limitation of the Linnaeus system is the absence of a method to name the sequenced organisms with precision.

Vinatzer does not propose changing the naming convention of existing biological classification.

Instead, the new naming system is meant to add further information to classify organisms within named species and to more rapidly identify new ones since the process depends solely on the organism's genetic code.

A genome-based naming system could be particularly helpful to public health officials who live in an age of constant vigilance against biological threats.

The new naming system would also give researchers the ability to name new pathogens in a matter of days - not months or years - based on their similarities to known pathogens.

The proposed naming process begins by sampling and sequencing an organism's DNA.

The sequence is then used to generate a code unique to that individual organism based on its similarity to all previously sequenced organisms, said the paper published in the journal PLoS ONE.

(Posted on 22-02-2014)

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