ISME is helping in establishing a nomenclature code for unculturable organisms.
More than 50% of the microbial phyla in genome taxonomy databases lack a cultured representative. Although these genome sequences unambiguously delineate microbial taxa, they cannot be formally named under the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes due to the requirement for a pure-culture type strain. ISME is therefore establishing a nomenclature code for unculturable organisms, an initiative called UnCode under leadership of our vice-president Phil Hugenholtz.


There are two important developments we would like to highlight. First, a draft of the code is in development, and will be available for comment in 2021. Second, we are pleased to announce that two community-wide workshops on a Path forward for naming the uncultivated will take place in 2021.

We seek to have active participation across the international community of microbiologists, including all career stages and diverse backgrounds. We hope to see many different subdisciplines well represented, including but not limited to systematics, biomedical microbiology, microbial ecology, bioinformatics, taxonomy, microbial systems science, and microbial genomics.

Workshop 1 is “Practical barriers to naming uncultivated microorganisms” 
Workshop 2 is “Path forward to implementation and adoption of the UnCode”