[Taxacom] Organism names in the news - Plant name housekeeping

Paul Kirk p.kirk at cabi.org
Thu Sep 23 09:57:53 CDT 2010

I regret that there is an error (of omission) on the MycoBank home page
... the result of a confusion between names and species. Correctly there
are slightly over 400000 names at the rank of species and below
published which are names of fungi; there are about 100000 species
presently known, of approx 1.5m total (Dictionary of the Fungi, ed. 10,


-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of
dipteryx at freeler.nl
Sent: 23 September 2010 15:23
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Organism names in the news - Plant name

Van: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu namens Redhead, Scott
Verzonden: do 23-9-2010 14:42

> What now strikes me as a mycologist as notable in the curent Taxacom 
> discussion, is how in general an estimated 1.5 million fungi (many 
> with thousands of names and synonyms) are overlooked, possibly because

> their names are governed by the International Code of Botanical 
> Nomenclature. Zoo lists (which would be useful), prokaryote lists, and

> plant lists will not cover fungi.

The Mycobank-website states "Total number of species: 405890" which
would mean approximately equal numbers of plants versus fungi?
* * *

> It is a frequently made lapse in light hearted discussions that 
> reflects how easily such an oversight occurs among biologists, which 
> is why some mycologists wish to raise the profile of fungal

Yes, there is something of a hierarchy: when talking biology nobody
overlooks big mammals or brightly coloured birds, but it all goes
downhill from there. The smaller an organism is the more it tend to get

Still, it would be very regrettable if mycologists decided to split off
and start a separate Code of their own. For one thing it requires a
certain critical mass of nomenclaturally-aware participants to
succesfully maintain a Code of nomenclature, and there are not all that
many such participants now. But clearly, the examples in the ICBN do not
reflect that there is an equal number of plants and fungi.
* * *

> see:

> Mycobank  http://www.mycobank.org/

> Index Fungorum http://www.indexfungorum.org/names/names.asp

> Because plants and fungi are covered by the same Code (for now) these 
> sites should be consulted in addition to the Plant List for possible 
> homonyms prior to publishing a new plant name.

Yes, that is a very good point. However, the website of the ING has not
missed this point, and is now searching the various relevant databases,
along with the ING proper (sensu stricto).

Also, it looks to me that, even if a split-off should happen, it could
be hugely destabilising to decide that fungal and plant names would no
longer inhabit the same nomenclatural universe (and would no longer be
homonyms of each other, with lots of "later homonyms" 
suddenly becoming "legitimate"!).

Paul van Rijckevorsel

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