Binomial Nomenclature: Definition, Method, and Examples

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Binomial Nomenclature Definition

A binomial system of naming a species is called binomial nomenclature. The binomial nomenclature of any organism is consists of two parts. The first part is a generic name which is followed by the species name. It is also known as binary nomenclature, a two-term naming system that is usually in a Latinized form.

What is Binomial Nomenclature?

The binomial nomenclature has great significance in the field of life sciences. In biology, one particular species may have different names in different languages. Therefore the binary name is used to identify particular species with a unique name.

Taxonomists use binomial nomenclature for the identification of a particular organism. The method is specially used to give a scientific name to the organism, which is often based in Greek or Latin language. The Greek language is selected due to its non-functioning nature.

All the organisms have a unique scientific name which consists of two parts:

(1) Generic Name 

(2) Specific Name

Therefore it is also called binomial name. The generic name consists of the genus of a particular organism. The rank below the family and above the species in the taxonomic classification system is called genus. A genus is consists of several species that have similar attributes. These species may have similarities in structure or phylogeny.

The specific name is the second part of the scientific name that is named over the species of a particular organism. In botanical nomenclature, it is mentioned as the “specific epithet”. The second name of the organism helps to identify the particular species of the genus.

History of Binomial Nomenclature

The binomial nomenclature was first described by Carl Linnaeus, also known as “The father of modern taxonomy”. The binomial nomenclature is formalized based on methods of taxonomic classification. Linnaeus introduced the classification system to differentiate a particular species from other species.

He described the classification of thousands of animals and plants in his book “Systema Naturae”. Linnaeus completed his work by the influence of Gaspard Bauhin, and Johann Bauhin.

The binomial nomenclature system was used by the Bauhin brothers earlier. Linnaeus adopted many of the generic names as that used by the Bauhin brothers.

Binomial Nomenclature Principle

The binomial nomenclature system has great significance in the scientific community. The system makes it easier to identify and study any species from all around the world. The common name of a particular species can differ in different languages whereas the binomial name is universal and more consistent.

Besides the inconsistency issues, the taxonomists can also assume the genus through which the species belongs by the naming method. Therefore the naming method is continuously using by taxonomists to this day.

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The coding of animal species is done by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN). ICZN determines the proper framing of scientific names.

A guideline is used for the nomenclature and proper citation of animal scientific names. Similarly, the botanical names of plants were determined by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICNafp).

It is formerly known as the International Cone of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN). ICNB (International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria) is responsible for the naming system of bacteria. For viruses, ICTV is the widely accepted naming system.

However there is some difference between the guidelines of ICZN and ICNafp, For example- tautonym is allowed in animal nomenclature but they are not allowed in the nomenclature of plants, algae, and fungi.

Binomial Nomenclature Examples

The Pyrus maleus is an example of binomial nomenclature, here Yucca is the generic name and maleus is the unique species name. There are some rules for applying scientific names or binomial nomenclature.

For example- The name is written in italics, the genus name always starts with a capital letter and the species name starts with a small letter. The name of the genus can also be written abbreviated, for instance, Pyrus maleus can be written as P. maleus. Here are some examples of common names and their binomial names;

Apple- Pyrus maleus

Banana- Musa paradiscium

Mango- Mangifera indica

Cat- Felis catus

Dog- Cannis familaris

Human- Homo sapiens

Lemon- Citrus limonium

Maize- Zea mays

Binomial Nomenclature Citations
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