The US National Center for Biotechnology Information recently updated the names of more than three dozen bacterial and archaeal phyla, surprising many researchers, according to The Scientist.
As NCBI notes in a blog post, the largest affected phyla include Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Bacteroidetes. Firmicutes is now Bacillota and Proteobacteria has become Pseudomonadota, while Actinobacteria is now Actinomycetota and Bacteroidetes has become Bacteroidota.
As The Scientist notes, the name changes stem from new rules set by the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes. Iain Sutcliffe, the ICSP chair, tells The Scientist that these and the other changes aim to rectify an oversight made in 1936 that enabled informal names to proliferate. This, it adds, is an "attempt to impose order," and phyla names now have to end in "-ota" and should derive their name from genera they include.
The seemingly sudden changes have taken some researchers by surprise, The Scientist says, adding that some are worried it will make their work harder and others are worried that it could lead to disconnects between older and newer research that could have implications for disease or food safety work.