Species Enumeration (Biodiversity) or Phylogenetic Relationship (Science) ==> Another problem

Una Smith una at LANL.GOV
Thu Jul 19 11:05:52 CDT 2001


My current work involves a virus, HIV, which is still poorly known
taxonomically, yet determining its phylogenetic relationships is a
priority.

Voucher specimens (i.e., samples) are essential.  The HIV research
community is very good about both making voucher specimens and citing
them.  The community maintains this high standard perhaps because it
has a single data repository (here at LANL) rather than hundreds of
museums/herbaria.  (But the specimens themselves stay in individual
researchers' laboratory freezers.  Perhaps in the future it will be
customary to deposit specimens in a formal curatorial archive.  This
is already happening at some institutions, for other organisms.)

On the other hand, HIV taxonomy (and its associated nomenclature) is
rudimentary.  An interesting sociological point:  there is *intense*
argument over the taxonomy that now exists, and over what rules of
nomenclature are needed to accomodate and stabilize "good" taxonomic
practice.  Much of this argument repeats the history of traditional
taxonomy.  E.g., some HIV researchers naively insist on a vague idea
of *intrinsic* equivalence between taxa of equivalent rank.  No!!!!

HIV-1 Nomenclatural Proposal
        http://www.hiv.lanl.gov/HTML/reviews/nomenclature/Nomen.html
        http://www.hiv.lanl.gov/COMPENDIUM/1999/6/nomenclature.pdf

Regards,

        Una Smith

Los Alamos National Laboratory, Mailstop K-710, Los Alamos, NM  87545




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