Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What's in a name? Would a Wolbachia by any other name, block RNA viruses as sweetly?

I've ranted about bacterial nomenclature in the past (see here), but this post is specifically about Wolbachia pipientis, and how we should name strain-level variants within a particular host-associated clade (such as wMel, for example).  Currently, there seem to be multiple ways to write these names and to present them in databases or the literature.  For example:

For variants within wMel, we find examples of the following types of strain names:

wMelPop-<insert specific substrain here after the dash>
The stuff that comes after the strain name (wMelPop) sometimes refers to the host insect from which the strain was isolated, or where it currently resides (such as in wMelPop-PYGP) or sometimes refers to how the strain was altered, through sequential passage (such as in wMelPop-CLA).  This variability in the naming schemas used in Wolbachia could lead to confusion down the road.

We are currently adding strain level information to some of the stocks that are now housed in the Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center.  Check out the page here for more. These strains were previously described and published and therefore, the names that appear should match those in the publication (at least for now).  However, when we identify new Wolbachia variants within Drosophila melanogaster, how should they be named?  Should we use the "dash" after the wMel<specificstrain> name? Do you work in Wolbachia? What makes sense to you? Please comment below.

some comments from the twittersphere:
Phenotypes can be dependend on host back ground and environment (e.g. temperature) - not good for naming.

when you refer to strain. Are you using Bloomington's (or source stock centre) stock number, or genetic mutation?