Aims and scope

Published by the Microbiology Society and owned by the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes (ICSP), a committee of the Bacteriology and Applied Microbiology Division of the International Union of Microbiological Societies, International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology is the leading forum for the publication of novel microbial taxa and the ICSP’s official journal of record for prokaryotic names.

The journal welcomes high-quality research on all aspects of microbial evolution, phylogenetics and systematics, encouraging submissions on all prokaryotes, yeasts, microfungi, protozoa and microalgae across the full breadth of systematics including:

  • Identification, characterisation and culture preservation
  • Microbial evolution and biodiversity
  • Molecular environmental work with strong taxonomic or evolutionary content
  • Nomenclature
  • Taxonomy and phylogenetics.

In addition to submitted work from researchers, the journal also publishes:

  • Notification Lists: new names of prokaryotes, new combinations, and new taxonomic opinions that have been published in the journal.
  • Official Validation Lists: names of new prokaryotes not published in the journal. For guidance, see below.
  • Changes in Taxonomic Opinion: resulting from the creation of synonyms or emended descriptions to be made widely available to the public. The names that are to be used are those that are the ‘correct names’ (in the sense of Principle 6) in the opinion of the bacteriologist, with a given circumscription, position and rank. A particular name, circumscription, position and rank does not have to be adopted in all circumstances. Consequently, the List of Changes in Taxonomic Opinion must be considered as a service to bacteriology and it has no ‘official character’, other than providing a centralised point for registering/indexing such changes in a way that makes them easily accessible to the scientific community. Taxonomic opinions included in the List cannot be considered as validly published nor, in any other way, approved by the ICSP and its Judicial Commission. Scientists wishing to have changes in taxonomic opinion included in future lists should send a PDF file of the appropriate reprint to the journal.
  • Opinions of the Judicial Commission of the ICSP.
  • Minutes of ICSP subcommittees.

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Publication of new taxa

For all articles reporting novel taxa, please refer to the nomenclature guidelines and pre-submission checklist.

Publication of new taxon

For a description of a new taxon, the following must be included with the submitted article (an article template for guidance can be found here):

  1. A statement or tabulation of the characteristics of each strain.
  2. A list of the strains included in the taxon as part of the introduction to the taxon.
  3. A list of characteristics considered essential for membership in the taxon.
  4. A list of characteristics which qualify the taxon for membership in the next higher taxon.
  5. A list of diagnostic characteristics, i.e. characters which distinguish the taxon from closely related taxa.
  6. Designation of the type for that taxon.
  7. The reactions of the type strain of a new species.
  8. For all characteristics that vary among strains within the species; e.g. if 80% of the strains ferment trehalose, the specific reaction of the type strain must be defined.
  9. Proof of deposit that any proposed prokaryote type strains have been deposited in two or more public culture collections with no restrictions. If there are any Material Transfer Agreements associated with the certificates of deposit, please include this information during submission.
  10. Genome sequences of the type strains of prokaryotes. Authors should include genome sequencing data with submissions of proposed novel prokaryotic taxa and the data should complement the discussed research. For authors who cannot afford genome sequencing, the journal has collaborated with the World Data Center for Microorganisms which provides a route for strains to be sequenced for free. For more information please refer to the Microbiology Society news story. If authors are unable to provide genome sequence data for any other reasons they should state why during the submission process and it will be considered by the handling Editor.
  11. The 16S rRNA gene should also be provided separately from the genome sequence.

For more information on the use of genome data for the taxonomy of prokaryotes please see Chun et al. 2018.

Suitable photomicrographs and, if necessary, electron micrographs may be used as part of the description to show any morphological or anatomical characters that may be pertinent to its classification.

Authors should include at least draft genome sequences of the type strains of new prokaryotic taxa. Genome sequences are of great value to the systematics of prokaryotes. In addition to improving the general understanding of the biology of microorganisms, they improve the identification of prokaryotic species, identification of functional characteristics useful for resolving taxonomic groups, and the resolution of the phylogeny of higher taxa.

All sequence data must be deposited in NCBI, EMBL-EBI or DDBJ to be available at INSDC (International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration) and must be publicly available at submission. This is to ensure both the longevity of the data and to make sure that it is freely accessible. For more information please go to www.insdc.org.

Precise locations may be detailed using geographical coordinates of latitude and longitude (e.g. 51°31'22.1"N, 0°06'54.5"W) or GPS data given to 6 decimal places (e.g. 51.522807, −0.115144).

Valid publication of names of bacterial taxa

Please refer to the International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria.

The Principles and Rules of nomenclature are published in the International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria (1990 Revision). International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria (Washington, DC: American Society for Microbiology), now renamed as the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes. Alterations to the Code published since 1990 can be found online at www.bacterio.net. In summary, the requirements for the valid publication of new names and combinations are as follows:

  1. The new name or combination must be published in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. If published elsewhere, the new name or combination is not validly published until it is published in the journal. The date of publication of the new name or combination is the date of publication in the journal.
  2. New names must be formed in accordance with the rules of the Code. Guidelines for the formation of correct names can be found in:
  3. Assistance with names is often required of those with competence in Latin and Greek. Authors are encouraged to contact one of the journal's nomenclature reviewers, Bernhard Schink, Stefano Ventura, Aharon Oren, Maria Chuvochina and George Garrity, by emailing the journal at [email protected] for guidance prior to the submission of their manuscripts.
  4. The name should be clearly proposed as a new name or combination. New names are ordinarily proposed by an author appending the phrase 'species nova' (abbreviation: sp. nov.), 'genus novum' (abbreviation: gen. nov.), 'nomen novum' (abbreviation: nom. nov.), 'combinatio nova' (abbreviation: comb. nov.), or the like after the name or combination being proposed as new.
  5. The nomenclature of prokaryotes is not independent of virological, botanical and zoological nomenclature. When naming new taxa in the rank of genus or higher, due consideration is to be given to avoiding names which are regulated by the International Code of Virus Classification and Nomenclature, the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants and the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Excellent listings of names can be found online at Species 2000 and in the online databases given below, and also in the following books:
    • Algae: De Toni, J. B. Sylloge Algarum, 1889; Index Kewensis, London: Royal Botanic Gardens, 1895–present.
    • Bacteria: see International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria.
    • Fungi: Clements FE and Shear CL The Genera of Fungi, New York: H. W. Wilson, 1931; Saccardo PA Sylloge Fungorum, vol 25, Pavia, 1882–1921; Index to Fungi, Kew: Commonwealth Mycological Institute, 1940–present.
    • Yeasts: see Nomenclature of Unicellular Eukaryotes.
    • Protozoa: Index Zoologicus, London: Zoological Society, 1902–present.
    • Plants: Index Nominum Genericorum.
    • Animals: Nomenclator Zoologicus.
  6. The taxon must be accompanied by a description or by a reference to a previously published description of the taxon.
  7. The nomenclatural type of the taxon must be designated. For species and subspecies, the type strain should be described and designated by the author's strain number as well as by the strain numbers under which it is held by at least two culture collections in TWO different countries from which the strain is available. For new combinations, the type strain must be cited. Culture Collections that are members of the World Federation of Culture Collections generally qualify. In cases of doubt, the Editors may be consulted.
  8. According to the Rule 27(2)b, the derivation (etymology) of a new name (and if necessary of a new combination) must be given – see any recent issue of the journal for examples.

Valid publication of names published outside the journal

For validation of new names published elsewhere, authors should submit a covering letter and a PDF of the published article(s) to [email protected]. The requirements for validation are identical to those for publication in the journal (i.e. authors must provide evidence that types are deposited in two recognised culture collections in two different countries).

Publication of names of unicellular eukaryotes

Please refer to the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants or to the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, as applicable. Much of what is written above for bacteria is relevant to the description of new taxa of unicellular eukaryotes. In the case of fungi and microfungi, according to the rules of the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants, a Latin diagnosis of the new taxon may be included, but is no longer compulsory, and the journal requires that an etymology/description in English in a style like that for prokaryotes be given.

Designation of Neotype Strains

A neotype strain is a strain that replaces, by international agreement, a type strain which is no longer in existence. The neotype should possess the characteristics given in the original description; any deviations should be explained. A proposal of a neotype strain must be published in the journal together with a reference (or references) to the first description and name for the micro-organism, a description (or reference to a description) of the proposed neotype strain, and a record of the author's designation for the neotype strain and of at least two culture collections in different countries from which cultures of the strain are available. The neotype strain becomes established two years after the date of its publication in the journal, provided that there are no objections, which must be referred within the first year of the publication of the neotype to the Judicial Commission for consideration. A neotype strain should be proposed only after a careful search has shown that none of the strains on which the original description was based is extant. If an original strain is subsequently discovered, the matter should be referred immediately to the Judicial Commission.

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The journal is indexed in AGRICOLA, Biological Abstracts, BIOSIS Previews, CAB Abstracts, CSA Illustrata, Chemical Abstracts, Current Contents–Life Sciences, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Info-Med, Science Citation Index, SciSearch, and SCOPUS, as well as on Google Scholar, ensuring maximum discoverability of your research.

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Information for authors

For more information about submitting to International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology , please see our Article typesPrepare an article and Submission and peer review pages. 

International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology provides authors with the option to publish subscription (paywalled) articles free-of-charge, or Gold Open Access articles. Microbiology Society journals offer two routes for Gold Open Access publishing: Publish and Read and Article Processing Charges. More information can be found on our Open Access costs page.

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