Funny Name of Microorganisms: Don’t try to find answer from these names

Last updated on June 6th, 2021

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 chicken.
    But: Chickenpox is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, a member of the herpes simplex virus family, not a pox virus.
  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.

About Acharya Tankeshwar 474 Articles
Hello, thank you for visiting my blog. I am Tankeshwar Acharya. Blogging is my passion. I am working as an Asst. Professor and Microbiologist at Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Patan Academy of Health Sciences, Nepal. If you want me to write about any posts that you found confusing/difficult, please mention in the comments below.