Naming of organisms

Dr Daniel J Bell et al.

Occasionally, we will refer to lifeforms in an article or case, and we adhere to standard scientific convention when it comes to naming organisms. as set down by the International Commision on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) 1. As per the standard binomial system, the genus and species of the organism are stated, and both should be italicized. The genus should also be capitalized and if abbreviated, be followed by a full stop (period). The species name is not capitalized:

  • Escherichia coli
  • E. coli

However higher ranks, e.g. orders and families, of species are not italicized, but are capitalized e.g. Wuchereria bancrofti, is from the genus Wuchereria, but from the taxonomic family Onchocercidae.

Occasionally the abbreviation "sp." or "spp." may be used following the genus name, meaning species or species plural respectively. For example, Wuchereria spp. is used to refer to more than one Wuchereria species. The "sp."/"spp." abbreviations are never capitalized or italicized, although the preceding genus name is. A full stop/period is always placed after these abbreviations unless it is used at the end of a sentence and would result in a double full stop/period.

Help and Style Guide

Article information

rID: 68374
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • sp. (naming organisms)
  • spp. (naming organisms)
  • Naming of parasites
  • Naming of protozoa
  • Naming of bacteria
  • Naming of micro-organisms

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Updating… Please wait.

 Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

 Thank you for updating your details.