Same genus/Different Kingdoms

John McNeill johnm at ROM.ON.CA
Thu Sep 19 00:25:55 CDT 1996

Peter Davis draws attention to the existence of _Pieris_ in the
Lepidoptera (Zoological Code) and _Pieris_ in the Ericaceae (Botanical
Code), and Karen Wilson explains that under the current codes of
biological nomenclature, it is possible for there to be triple
homonymy - in plants, animals and bacteria.  In fact at least 12 such
names are known, 8 of which are in current use in Botany, 7 of these

Generic name      Homonym in botany                  NCU    Homonym in zoology

Catenococcus  Algae: Chlorophyceae; Radiococcaceae    C     Coccoidea
Kingella      Plantae: Phanerogamae; Loranthaceae     C     Fossil Miscellanea
Microcyclus   Fungi: Ascomycota; Mycosphaerellaceae   C     Rugosa
Moorella      Fungi: Mitosporic fungi; Hyphomycetes   C     Encyrtidae
Morganella    Fungi: Basidiomycetes; Lycoperdaceae    C     Brachiopoda
Rhodococcus   Algae: Chlorophyceae; Palmellaceae      C     Coccoidea
Rothia        Plantae: Phanerogamae; Fabaceae         C     Agaristidae

In fact the extent of overall cross-code homonymy is really
quite high.  We do not have data available on zoological names that
are in current use, but we do for plants and bacteria (given the new
1970 starting point of bacterial names all such can be considered to
be in current use) and the following table gives a summary of the
number of names involved.

One of the proposals of the Draft BioCode (for details: send to
listserv at the message: Subscribe Yourfirstname
Yourlastname - or check is to ban all future
cross-kingdom homonymy and to establish in detail the extent of
existing homonymy.  For example, the fact that there is generic
homonymy does not mean that there is necessarily homonymy at the
specific level;  it may be that the number of name changes to avoid
the latter will be small, and with a well-documented list of known
generic homonyms, confusion (in, for example, databases that are not
restricted to any one group of organism) will be minimised.

Herewith the table of numbers of cross-code homonyms:

                          Inter-Code Generic Homonymy

                            Botanical Generic Names

   Total           Homonyms in           In current use    In current use
  number       Zoological Record           in Botany         in Zoology

   64,419         8,784 (13.6%)               3,554              ???

                         Bacteriological generic names

   Total        Homonyms in         Also in      Also in   Also in Botany
   number    Zoological Record    Bacter. use      ING        NCU list

     674         50 (7.4%)            48           12             8

                Homonyms in         Also in   Also in Bot. Also in current
                    ING           Bacter. use   NCU list    use in Zool.

     674         29 (4.3%)            27           12            ??

Based on data provided by Paul Kirk, International Mycological
Institute, Egham, UK.

John McNeill

From: John McNeill, Director, Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen's Park,
      Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2C6, Canada.
      Tel.: 416-586-5639      Fax: 416-586-8044
      e-mail: johnm at

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