Elisandra Galvão (VPPCB/Fiocruz)
Restrictions to the distribution of biological material placed by the legislation of countries such as India, South Africa and Brazil do not include lineages intended to be used as type lineage, i.e. material for the validation or valid publication of names of species of bacteria. This issue is the central theme of the paper entitled How legislations affect new taxonomic descriptions, published on Trends in Microbiology in November. The discussion of this issue goes beyond the matter of the taxonomy of prokaryotes; it is also relevant to other areas of research in biology.
With the participation of a researcher from the Fiocruz COVID-19 Biobank, the paper mentions as the main example of the difficulties faced by researchers a case from 2020 involving the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (IJSEM). At the time, the Journal informed its authors that it would no longer be accepting proof of deposit of type lineages originating from countries such as India, South Africa, Brazil, or from the Polar and Alpine Microbial Collection, from South Korea. This took place due to requirements of the International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (ICNP).
The Journal’s decision is mainly related to the requirements placed by the respective legislations of Brazil, India and South Africa regarding the sharing of biological material. The authors also presented a summary of these legislations, highlighting the requirements that involve access to genetic resources and emphasizing, as part of the solution, more dialogue between the scientific community, taxonomists and culture collections with government agencies.
“In Brazilian institutions, including Ficoruz, the impact has been felt in the past few years thanks to the impediment of validation of new species of bacteria from Brazil. This obstacle causes plenty of damage to the knowledge of microbial diversity and to technological research and development; as a consequence, it also harms bio-economy”, commented Manuela da Silva, Fiocruz researcher and participant of the paper. “In addition, if we keep in mind the fact that the proofs of deposit provided by the collections of Brazilian cultures are not accepted for the purpose of validation of new species, deposits of lineages from out of Brazil have been reduced”.
The paper is signed by Manuela da Silva (Fiocruz COVID-19 Biobank), Philippe Desmeth (Belgian Science Policy Office), Stephanus N. Venter (Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology, and Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute of the University of Pretoria, South Africa), Yogesh Shouche (National Centre for Microbial Resource, National Centre for Cell Science – India) and Andrey Youkov (Leibniz Institute DSMZ – German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures), and can be read in full on the website of Trends in Microbiology.