The status Candidatus for uncultured taxa of Bacteria and Archaea: SWOT analysis

Pallen (2021). International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology 71 (9)
Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics General Medicine Microbiology
The status Candidatus was introduced to bacterial taxonomy in the 1990s to accommodate uncultured taxa defined by analyses of DNA sequences. Here I review the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) associated with the status Candidatus in the light of a quarter century of use, twinned with recent developments in bacterial taxonomy and sequence-based taxonomic discovery. Despite ambiguities as to its scope, philosophical objections to its use and practical problems in implementation, the status Candidatus has now been applied to over 1000 taxa and has been widely adopted by journals and databases. Although lacking priority under the International Code for Nomenclature of Prokaryotes, many Candidatus names have already achieved de facto standing in the academic literature and in databases via description of a taxon in a peer-reviewed publication, alongside deposition of a genome sequence and there is a clear path to valid publication of such names on culture. Continued and increased use of Candidatus names provides an alternative to the potential upheaval that might accompany creation of a new additional code of nomenclature and provides a ready solution to the urgent challenge of naming many thousands of newly discovered but uncultured species.
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