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New DNA plant naming system



March 16, 2014
Genome gradient by George Gastin

Genome gradient by George Gastin

A new naming system based on genome sequencing could remove the naming roundabout that besets botanical names.

Associate Professor Boris Vinatzer is a Virginia Tech researcher is in the process of patenting the new system that uses the genetic sequence of each organism to enhance the binomial ‘genus-species’ system developed by Carl Linnaeus over 200 years ago.

The current system of using physical characteristics to name organisms means there are lengthy delays between identification and the naming of new species, or new strains of existing species. In Vinatzer’s system, DNA sequencing would generate a code unique to that organism based on its similarity to all previously sequenced organisms. These code names would be permanent, instead of the constant renaming that confuses everyone in both biological and botanical fields.

Vinatzer is collaborating with Lenwood Heath, a professor in the Department of Computer Science in the College of Engineering in founding This Genomic Life Inc., which will license the invention to develop it further.

Heath says:

“I work in computation, so having the opportunity to impart my knowledge by ordering the organic world through numbered sequences of DNA was fascinating. The mathematical world and the living world are a lot more closely related than we think.”

[More at Virginia Tech News]


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