Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Taxonomy and Species Delimitation in Cyanobacteria

Version 1 : Received: 6 March 2021 / Approved: 8 March 2021 / Online: 8 March 2021 (11:18:31 CET)

How to cite: Papini, A.; Falsini, S.; Karssa, T.H. Taxonomy and Species Delimitation in Cyanobacteria. Preprints 2021, 2021030212. Papini, A.; Falsini, S.; Karssa, T.H. Taxonomy and Species Delimitation in Cyanobacteria. Preprints 2021, 2021030212.


Cyanobacteria are prokaryotes whose taxonomy follows the same rules of a code (the International Botanical Nomenclature Code, IBNC) built for eukaryotic photosynthetic organisms. Hence, names of cyanobacteria follow the same rules and are assigned to biological entities (species) that should correspond to eukaryotic species. The main difficulty in the current situation is that the species concept in eukaryotes is based theoretically mainly on the biological species concept, that is centered on genetic exchange through sexual reproduction or lack of them. However, as shown, this difference is important from a theoretical point of view, but also in eukaryotes, the boundaries between different species are very rarely checked experimentally by direct observation of sexual barriers and hybridization events. The main concept for species delimitation is hence that related to morphology and, more recently and always in relation to morphology, DNA sequences. The introduction of distances obtained from matrixes of aligned sequences in the framework of a barcoding project provides a quantitative interpretation of species delimitation in relation to genetic distance that can be used both in eukaryotes and prokaryotes. However, the introduction of quantitative criteria needs the definition of distance thresholds to identify the boundaries between different species and, for doing that, it is necessary to test the distance thresholds in models of traditionally defined and recognized species. An alternative approach may be the comparison of the molecular distance (quantitative approach) to data about the capability of strains/species to exchange genetic information. Unfortunately data about this last question is still scarce. The adoption of molecular criteria to check species boundaries based on morphological characters has proved particularly challenging in cyanobacteria: a known example is provided. In conclusion, the only possible approach appears to be the association of molecular data to the increase of available data about the cell structure and the variation thereof in different physiological situations, particularly at the ultrastructural level. A further necessity is the check of the typus for a large number of cyanobacteria species, often based on old basionyms. In many of these cases the typus is often a drawing and more rarely a herbarium specimen or a microscope slide. In many cases an epitypification or a neotypification appears to be necessary.


Cyanobacteria; Arthrospira; species concept; typus; species concept in prokaryotes


Biology and Life Sciences, Anatomy and Physiology

Comments (0)

We encourage comments and feedback from a broad range of readers. See criteria for comments and our Diversity statement.

Leave a public comment
Send a private comment to the author(s)
* All users must log in before leaving a comment
Views 0
Downloads 0
Comments 0
Metrics 0

Notify me about updates to this article or when a peer-reviewed version is published.
We use cookies on our website to ensure you get the best experience.
Read more about our cookies here.