Funny Name of Microorganisms

By Acharya Tankeshwar •  Updated: 05/13/22 •  2 min read

Naming microorganisms is a very challenging game. Some of the names of microorganisms are given in honor of those persons who have discovered this organism. In some cases, the name of a particular organism is derived from the place of its discovery, and in other cases, the name reflects some of the salient features of the organisms such as Staphylococci (grape-like cluster: morphology), Mycobacteria: (containing Mycolic acid: salient feature).

But today I am talking about those popular names of microorganisms, inferences taken based only on those names result in the funny answer! I have found students getting confused and writing unrelated properties of these organisms. After seeing the name, they just guess the properties, which may not be correct.  

Here are the some:

  1. Chickenpox: The question asked was, “write properties of a virus causing chickenpox“. I got the answer: It is a poxvirus and it infects chickens.
    But: Chickenpox is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, a member of the herpes simplex virus family, not a poxvirus.
  2. Histoplasma capsulatum: When asked about Histoplasma in a viva, a student replied: It’s a protozoan and it is capsulated.
    But:  As its first name suggest, it is not a protozoan,  It’s a fungus. As its second name suggest, it is not a capsulated organism, it does not bear any capsule.
  3. Haemophilus influenzae: In spite of its name, Haemophilus influenzae does not cause influenza (the “flu”) flu is caused by influenza viruses.

Acharya Tankeshwar

Hello, thank you for visiting my blog. I am Tankeshwar Acharya. Blogging is my passion. As an asst. professor, I am teaching microbiology and immunology to medical and nursing students at PAHS, Nepal. I have been working as a microbiologist at Patan hospital for more than 10 years.

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