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In the scientific name of organisms, basionym or basyonym[1][2] means the original name on which a new name is based; the author citation of the new name should include the authors of the basionym in parentheses. The term "basionym" is used in both botany and zoology.[3] In zoology, alternate terms such as original combination[4] or protonym[5] are sometimes used instead. Bacteriology uses a similar term, basonym, spelled without an i.[6]

Although "basionym" and "protonym" are often used interchangeably, they have slightly different technical definitions. A basionym is the correct spelling of the original name (according to the applicable nomenclature rules), while a protonym is the original spelling of the original name.[5] These are typically the same, but in rare cases may differ.

Use in botany[edit]

The term "basionym" is used in botany only for the circumstances where a previous name exists with a useful description, and the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants does not require a full description with the new name.[7] A basionym must therefore be legitimate. Basionyms are regulated by the code's articles 6.10, 7.3, 41, and others.[8]

When a current name has a basionym, the author or authors of the basionym are included in parentheses at the start of the author citation. If a basionym is later found to be illegitimate, it becomes a replaced synonym and the current name's author citation must be changed so that the basionym authors do not appear.

Combinatio nova[edit]

The basionym of the name Picea abies (the Norway spruce) is Pinus abies. The species was originally named Pinus abies by Carl Linnaeus and so the author citation of the basionym is simply "L." Later on, botanist Gustav Karl Wilhelm Hermann Karsten decided this species should not be grouped in the same genus (Pinus) as the pines, so he transferred it to the genus Picea (the spruces). The new name Picea abies is combinatio nova, a new combination (abbreviated comb. nov.). With author citation, the current name is "Picea abies (L.) Karst."

Status novus[edit]

In 1964, the subfamily name Pomoideae, which had been in use for the group within family Rosaceae that have pome fruit like apples, was no longer acceptable under the code of nomenclature because it is not based on a genus name. Claude Weber did not consider the family name Malaceae Small to be taxonomically appropriate, so he created the name Maloideae at the rank of subfamily, referring to the original description of the family, and using the same type.[9] This change of rank from family to subfamily is an example of status novus (abbreviated stat. nov.), also called a "name at new rank".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ WoRMS Notadusta punctata (Linnaeus, 1771)
  2. ^ Heiden, G. (2013). "Two new combinations in Baccharis (Asteraceae: Astereae)" (PDF). Phytoneuron. 2013: Article 78.
  3. ^ Pyle, Richard Lawrence (2004). "Taxonomer: a relational data model for managing information relevant to taxonomic research". PhyloInformatics. 1: 1–54. Although the word 'Basionym' is more frequently used in botanical contexts than in zoological contexts, the basic concept applies equally to both (and is becoming more commonly used in zoological contexts).
  4. ^ "Loterre: Zoonom: protonym (sensu Pyle)". skosmos.loterre.fr. A scientific name in its original combination, authorship and date (or more directly, the Reference association). (Pyle 2003) ; Not to be confused with "protonym" sensu Dubois.
  5. ^ a b Aescht, Erna (2008). "Annotated catalogue of 'type material' of ciliates (Ciliophora) and some further protists at the Upper Austrian Museum in Linz, including a guideline for 'typification' of species". Denisia. 23: 129. Basionym – a previously published legitimate name-bringing or epithet-bringing synonym from which a new name is formed for a taxon of different rank or position (term used in botanical nomenclature; ICBN 2006); correct spelling of the protonym (DUBOIS 2000). [...] Protonym – original morphonym of a hoplonym (DUBOIS 2000, 2005a).
  6. ^ Tindall, B. J. (1999). "Misunderstanding the Bacteriological Code". International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology. 49 (3): 1313–1316. doi:10.1099/00207713-49-3-1313. PMID 10425796.
  7. ^ Turland, N. (2013), The Code Decoded: A user's guide to the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants, vol. Regnum Vegetabile Volume 155, Koeltz Scientific Books, ISBN 978-3-87429-433-1
  8. ^ McNeill, J.; Barrie, F.R.; Buck, W.R.; Demoulin, V.; Greuter, W.; Hawksworth, D.L.; Herendeen, P.S.; Knapp, S.; Marhold, K.; Prado, J.; Prud'homme Van Reine, W.F.; Smith, G.F.; Wiersema, J.H.; Turland, N.J. (2012). "Glossary". International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (Melbourne Code) adopted by the Eighteenth International Botanical Congress Melbourne, Australia, July 2011. Vol. Regnum Vegetabile 154. A.R.G. Gantner Verlag KG. ISBN 978-3-87429-425-6.
  9. ^ Weber, C. (1964). "The genus Chaenomeles (Rosaceae)". Journal of the Arnold Arboretum. 45 (2): 161–205, 302–345. doi:10.5962/p.30865. Page 164, footnote 1