During last month’s annual PIUG meeting, it was my good fortune to see a presentation from George Garrity, Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Michigan State University and a co-founder of NamesforLife, LLC. From George I learned about an important challenge affecting searchers of biological information: rapidly changing organism names.
This is an exciting time to be a biologist, as new knowledge is rapidly being discovered through DNA sequencing technology. But one downside is that a fast-moving field means a quickly changing taxonomy: as bacterial strains are differentiated from one another, their specific names frequently evolve. I was astonished to learn that the list of validly published names of Bacteria and Archaea changes about 15 times a week, and informal or trivial names are created and enter into the literature at a rate of approximately 100-150 times/day. Read on to discover how these challenges impact the patent field, and how the Names-for-Life technology is designed to help.