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July 2008 Committee Report to the ISPP Executive Council

Committee on the Taxonomy of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria (CTPPB)

Current membership

C.T. Bull (Convener), S.H. De Boer, T.P. Denny, G. Firrao, M. Fischer-Le Saux, G.S. Saddler, M. Scortichini, D.E. Stead, Y. Takikawa

Dr. John Young officially retired from the Committee and as Convener in July of 2006, but graciously continued working with the committee until June 2008. John astutely led the committee for nearly 30 years.

Committee Meetings:

The Committee last formally met at the 11th International Conference on Plant Pathogenic Bacteria, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, 10-14 July 2006.  The minutes for that meeting are available on the CTPPB website.

Committee Activities:

The following actions were initiated and/or completed since 2006:

  •         The Committee along with the help of Dr. Peter Williamson has up-dated the CTPPB website ( The website was restructured to make it more navigable. The difficulties experienced in 2006 with up-dating the website no longer exist. The website continues to house the International Standards for Naming Pathovars, the List of Names of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria 1864-1996, and updates of names after 2000. We developed several new features for the website including:

o       An online submission form for notifying the CTPPB Convener of new names that have been effectively for inclusion in the Lists of Names of Bacterial Plant Pathogens (see “Submit a New Name” link at

o       Committee business (agendas and minutes from meetings, a history of the committee, current committee activities)

o       A news section on the homepage of the committee

  •         The manuscript Demystifying the Nomenclature of Bacterial Plant Pathogens is being written by the committee based on the poster presented by the committee in 2006 at Edinburgh, Scotland.  The need for a manuscript to help plant pathologists understand the Code and the Standards and their application was identified by attendees at the meeting in Charlottetown PEI, Canada.  It is the intent of the CTPPB to submit the manuscript to Plant Pathology by the end of August 2008.

  •         The document, Names of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria through 2006, will be posted to the CTPPB eminently. However, the committee is in discussion about the format for future Lists of Names of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria. Currently the lists are only being posted to the ISPP-CTPPB website. However, previous editions of the lists were published in citable journals. Because web addresses are transient many journals do not allow citations of web addresses and the documents are at risk of being lost. Thus, the current lists do not meet all the documentation criteria of the scientific community. The committee is discussing the possibility of publishing the annual list in citable journals or having DOI assigned to the documents.  No descision has been made and the comprehensive 2006 up-date is to be posted directly to the web.

  •         A discussion forum was initiated on the ISPP website in 2000, but was removed in 2008 due to inactivity.

  •         The committee remains reactive in that we responded to inquiries and commented on proposals for their adherence to the Standards or in situations when nomenclatural proposals were viewed as unhelpful to the taxonomy of plant pathogens.

Nomenclatural issues:

  •         There is ongoing confusion about the meaning of “type strain.” The committee needs to decide if it would like to address this issue.

  •         We have identified that the lack of formal coordination between the Code and the Standards has led to proposals that are not consistent with the intent of scientific nomenclature and hinders communication about plant pathogenic bacteria. The committee needs to decide what action it will take to remedy this situation.

  •          The committee needs to determine if the List of Illegitimate Names should be up-dated.

  •         The committee has discussed making a listing of groups of plant pathogenic bacteria that need significant taxonomic work.

Additional work identified:

  •         Work on the structure of the committee was initiated in 2000 and advanced in 2006.  Our goal was to develop a Constitution for the CTPPB. Although not a requirement for ISPP Subject Matter Committees, we feel that some guiding framework should be developed. Work on this document was essentially on hold due to our more pressing work on a manuscript and New Names document.  However, it is still the intent of the committee to develop the document.

  •         The committee identified a need to better publicize our existence and function.  Upon publication of the Names of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria through 2006, the convener will work with the committee to advertise the new list to relevant groups of plant pathologists and journal editors as well as to advertise the new submission form for inclusion of recently published new names.

Submitted by Carolee T. Bull (Convener),

US Department of Agriculture, 1636 E Alisal Street, Salinas, CA 93905, USA; e-mail: