Taxonomic names: Format them right!

Taxonomy (the study of classification), provides scientific writers with a system for organizing and naming living things. Each organism belongs to a series of ranked taxonomic categories, such as class, order, family, etc. (see overview here by Paul R. Ehrlich, David S. Dobkin, and Darryl Wheye). The basic systematic ranks or taxa (singular is “taxon”), in descending order, are: Domain Kingdom Phylum (animals and bacteria) or Division (plants and fungi) Class Order Family Genus Species A number of formatting rules govern the way taxonomic descriptors are written: Names of taxa at the level of genus and below should be written in italics. This includes genus, species, subspecies, variety, and forma. Poa species are widespread in North America. Most tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The sulfate-reducing bacteria Desulfovibrio desulfuricans aesturii is found in estuarine sediments.   Names of taxa at the level of family or above should be in roman type (there are exceptions for bacteria and viruses). Most Salmonellae encountered in EID will be serotypes. The plant kingdom includes Bryophyta (bryophytes) and Tracheophyta (tracheophytes). The family Malvaceae includes both temperate and tropical plant species. Sharks belong to the class Chondrichthyes. Prokaryotes are classified into the domains Archaea and Bacteria.   Use an initial capital letter for the names of all taxa down through genus. They sampled Musca domestica (Diptera: Muscidae). Humans, Homo sapiens, belong to phylum Chordata, class Mammalia, and family Hominidae. The complete genome of Shigella boydii (Bacteria; Proteobacteria; Gammaproteobacteria; Enterobacteriales; Enterobacteriaceae; Shigella) is available in databases.   …

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