[Taxacom] Diversity of bacteria

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Tue Feb 7 12:08:53 CST 2012

Hi Brian,
        I won't even try to give estimates for the number of undescribed
species (I have read that some estimate that only about 1% have been
described, but that is just a guess, so who knows). 

       Numbers for described species are easier to come by.  However, it
should be noted that the numbers below do not include species of
cyanobacteria).  According to the LPSN (List of Prokaryotic names with
Standing in Nomenclature), there were 1,792 species in the original
Approved List of Bacterial Names (1980), and that another 9,351 species
have been validly published since.  That gives a total of 11,143

       But one would need to subtract from that total:  31 which are
homotypic synonyms, about 292 are regarded as heterotypic synonyms, 13
are nomina nova, 1260 are new combinations, and 67 have subsequently
been deemed illegitimate.  If I did my math correctly, that leaves a
total of 9,480 species.

      However, as I noted above, this does not include cyanobacteria,
and how many species of cyanobacteria there are is very controversial
(between the splitters and lumpers).  And it also does not include
published "candidatus" species.   And the 67 illegitimate species are
probably mostly good species that simply need to be made Code compliant. 

       So I think about 9,600 species would be about right for
archaebacteria plus most eubacteria.  However, one would need to add to
that figure some arbitrary number for species of cyanobacteria (the
numbers of which vary widely between lumpers and splitters).   
             --------Ken Kinman

Does anyone know the latest estimate on the number of described species
of bacteria?  How about prokaryotes as a whole?  Are there any estimates
for the number of undescribed species of prokaryotes? 
Thanks for your time! 
Best regards, Brian 
L. Brian Patrick, Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor of Biology and Chair 
Department of Biological Sciences 
Dakota Wesleyan University 
1200 W. University Ave. 
Mitchell, SD  57301 

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