BGN 2: Comments on The Proposals from Aberdeen Meeting in 1970 BARLEY GENETICS NEWSLETTER, VOL. 2, I. SPECIAL NOTICES
Takahashi & coworkers, pp. 9-10

I.12. Comments on "The Proposals from Aberdeen Meeting in 1970"

We quite realize that your proposals are rational and well-arranged. However, we can not fully understand the reasons why the International rule for gene nomenclature and symbolization proposed in 1957 should soon be amended as shown on pages 4-5 of BGN. Certainly it is desirable for us that the gene symbols are adaptive to the computer use. But, this is not necessarily the prerequisite for gene symbols, and this might be said to be a problem in programming the computer, so we had better wait a while for a new improved computer adaptive to storage and retrieval of more complicated symbols.

We would like to point out that in your proposals there is a confusion in the use of a letter or letters for gene symbols: it is indicated in some case a letter to be used for representing a particular mutational event, for instance gs5e used by Eslick on page 32 BGN in which e is used for representing the 5th mutational event, whereas a letter is to be used for representing an allele, for instance Kle where e is for elevated hood. In order to avoid such a confusion, we would like to suggest that the letter should be used for designating the character which a gene or its allele generates or representing the name of a variety, or some others, while the arabic numerals should be used for numbering the gene locus and/or a particular mutational event (sequence of occurence of mutation). This may be a compromise between your system and Scandinavian's.

Example gs2e to be written as gs25 or gs25, likewise

cer-a123 to be written as cer-1123

In such cases that several different symbols have been assigned to such genes that give a phenotypically similar characteristic, a single gene symbol should be selected. In this work attention should be paid for its priority in time of naming and the adequacy of the gene symbol to represent its effect. Preference should be given to such a gene symbol indicating the change in a particular plant part which the gene principally affects, such as gs for glossy sheath, gl for glossy leaf, gh (if necessary) for glossy head. If possible, a generic symbol, such as ari (awn), cer (waxless) etc., should be avoided.

The gene symbolization and nomenclature is a difficult problem. I think, the rule proposed by International Committee on Genetic Symbols and Nomenclature is "the great common divisor" deduced from very long experience with various kinds of organisms. Certainly, it involves flexibility and ambiguities which sometimes cause confusion. Nevertheless, such a condition is inevitable to any kinds of International rules.

Takahashi and coworkers

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