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A Whiff of Taxonomy

It may seem a bit incongruous that in this age of great advances everywhere in the microbial world, we must pause to learn the names of more and more microbes. The molecular biologists of old (that’s fifty years ago!) needed to recognize only a few names such as E. coli, B. subtilis, and, if broadminded, a few others. (I remember how one of the distinguished founders of the field had written on a corner of his blackboard: E. coli = Gram-negative.) No longer so. Phylogeny, ecology, and the likes make new demands on us. We now have to learn about such creatures as the planctomycetes, acidobacteria, and verrucomicrobia, to rattle off just a few. I worry about my brain capacity, but, on the other hand, am glad that all this leads us to revisit what Lynn Margulis called The Garden of Microbial Delights. I intend to occasionally post very brief taxonomic pieces on selected bacterial groups. I may not be fully attentive to the taxon level and may mix up genera and higher taxa.

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