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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Haemophilus influenzae: In spite of its name, Haemophilus influenzae does not cause influenza (the “flu”) flu is caused by influenza viruses.