GenSeq: Updated nomenclature for genetic sequences to solve taxonomic determination issues

November 1, 2013
This image illustrates the logic of the GenSeq nomenclature. Credit: Prosanta Chakrabarty

An improved and expanded nomenclature for genetic sequences is introduced that corresponds with a ranking of the reliability of the taxonomic identification of the source specimens. This nomenclature is an advancement of the "Genetypes" naming system, which some have been reluctant to adopt because of the use of the "type" suffix in the terminology. The study was published in the open access journal Zookeys.

The use of genetic sequences has been increasing with each passing year but unfortunately, the separation between voucher specimens and genetic sequences is similarly growing. With increasing frequency, the link between the genetic sequences being used in analyses and the organisms from which they came is not being reported. The taxonomic determination remains solely the responsibility of the submitter of the sequences. Erroneous identifications are difficult to discover, and the perpetuation of the error in subsequent uses of the sequence data is nearly impossible to stop.

In the new nomenclature, genetic sequences are labeled "genseq," followed by a reliability ranking (e.g., 1 if the sequence is from a primary type), followed by the name of the genes from which the sequences were derived (e.g., genseq-1 16S, COI). The numbered suffix provides an indication of the likely reliability of taxonomic identification of the voucher. Included in this ranking system, in descending order of taxonomic reliability, are the following: sequences from primary types – "genseq-1," secondary types – "genseq-2," collection-vouchered topotypes – "genseq-3," collection-vouchered non-types – "genseq-4," and non-types that lack specimen vouchers but have photo vouchers – "genseq-5."

To demonstrate use of the new nomenclature, the authors of the study review recently published news species descriptions in the ichthyological literature that include DNA data and apply the GenSeq nomenclature to sequences referenced in those publications.

"Use of the new nomenclature and system will improve integration of molecular phylogenetics and biological taxonomy and enhance the ability of researchers to assess the of sequence data,"explains one of the authors Dr. Prosanta Chakrabarty, Museum of Natural Science, Louisiana State University. "We further encourage authors to update sequence information on databases such as GenBank whenever nomenclatural changes are made."

Explore further: Who do our genes belong to?

More information: Chakrabarty P, Warren M, Page LM, Baldwin CC (2013) GenSeq: An updated nomenclature and ranking for genetic sequences from type and non-type sources. ZooKeys 346: 29–41. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.346.5753

Related Stories

Who do our genes belong to?

September 7, 2010

Investors in pharmaceutical, medical and biotechnological industries should not be able to patent genes that are identical to naturally occurring sequences, according to an Australian National University biotechnology patent ...

Nanotechnology-enhanced DNA analysis

August 10, 2012

European researchers enhanced the selectivity of state-of-the-art genetic sequencing methods using nanotechnology. Immediate application in detection of strains of Salmonella and Staphylococcus should facilitate speedy identification ...

Evolution's toolkit seen in developing hands and arms

July 3, 2013

Thousands of sequences that control genes are active in the developing human limb and may have driven the evolution of the human hand and foot, a comparative genomics study led by Yale School of Medicine researchers has found

Recommended for you

Scientists overcome key CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing hurdle

December 1, 2015

Researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT have engineered changes to the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system that significantly cut down on "off-target" ...

Study finds 'rudimentary' empathy in macaques

December 1, 2015

(—A pair of researchers with Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Université Lyon, in France has conducted a study that has shown that macaques have at least some degree of empathy towards their fellow ...

Which came first—the sponge or the comb jelly?

December 1, 2015

Bristol study reaffirms classical view of early animal evolution. Whether sponges or comb jellies (also known as sea gooseberries) represent the oldest extant animal phylum is of crucial importance to our understanding of ...

Trap-jaw ants exhibit previously unseen jumping behavior

December 1, 2015

A species of trap-jaw ant has been found to exhibit a previously unseen jumping behavior, using its legs rather than its powerful jaws. The discovery makes this species, Odontomachus rixosus, the only species of ant that ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.