Take the Mystery Out of Latin Names of Probiotics and Other Microorganisms

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Take the Mystery Out of Latin Names of Probiotics and Other Microorganisms

Don’t let the ancient Latin throw you! Here’s a quick overview of what you need to know about the latin names of microorganisms found in fermented foods.

When you are teaching a class or writing a blog post about microorganisms like bacteria and yeasts (or talking about it at the dinner table like we do all the time at my house!) you may want to double check that you are writing the names properly so you are professional in everything you do.
It may have been awhile since your high school science classes, so below is a refresher so you can have a working knowledge of these organisms at your disposal.

How To Write The Names of Bacteria and Fungus

All these microorganisms follows a certain set of rules called NOMENCLATURE.

When writing bacterial names by hand on a chalkboard or whiteboard, you will want to underline them. When typing the names, you will use italics.

The first name is the GENUS. It is always capitalized. For example, Lactobacillus is the genus. This is the generic name of the kind of bacteria. You may refer to bacteria by their generic name. The plural form of ‘genus’ is ‘genera’.

To get more specific, you will want to include the SPECIES. This is the second word in the name. It is always lowercase. You never refer to bacteria by their species without including the genus. In Lactobacillus casei, the second word, “casei” is the species.

Once you’ve mentioned Lactobacillus you may refer to it as L. casei and L. acidophilus. If you are discussing two different genera that start with the same letter, you will want to write out the entire name of the genus.
Using the genus and species is ideal when discussing bacteria and yeasts. Sometimes a microorganism will have three names. This means there is a subspecies, though for healing and teaching purposes, it is rarely relevant to get this specific.

Voila! You just got smarter!

Love the science? In the Fermentationist Certification Program we delve into the microorganisms that inhabit your favorite fermented foods and your favorite intestines.

Which Latin name for a microorganism do you wish you knew how to pronounce? Tell me in the comments below.