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Volume 15, Number 3—March 2009


Spelling Pneumocystis jirovecii

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To the Editor: Our 2002 article in Emerging Infectious Diseases about nomenclature changes for organisms in the genus Pneumocystis (1) has been widely cited and probably will remain a source for persons seeking information about this subject. Therefore, we need to correct an error in 1 of the species names presented in our article and in the 1999 article by Frenkel (2) on which our article was based. In the 1999 article, Frenkel proposed that the species of Pneumocystis found in humans be named to honor the Czech parasitologist, Otto Jirovec. The 1999 article was his second proposal for this change. In 1976, he first named the human pathogen Pneumocystis jiroveci (3), at which time it was classified as a protozoan and therefore named according to the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. By 1999, it had become clear that the organisms in the genus Pneumocystis are fungi, which are named according to the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN) (4). Differences between the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature and ICBN resulted in the realization of an error in the species epithet proposed by Frenkel in 1999, and our 2002 article contained this error. Frenkel’s 1999 article should have modified the species epithet from “jiroveci” to “jirovecii,” (ICBN Articles 32.7 and 60.11 and Rec. 60C.1b). The correct and valid name under ICBN is Pneumocystis jirovecii. Redhead et al. further explain the basis for this correction (5).

James R. StringerComments to Author , Charles B. Beard, and Robert F. Miller

Author affiliations: University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA (J.R. Stringer); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA (C.B. Beard); University College, London, UK (R.F. Miller)


  1. Stringer JR, Beard CB, Miller RF, Wakefield AE. A new name (Pneumocystis jiroveci) for Pneumocystis from humans. Emerg Infect Dis. 2002;8:8916.PubMed
  2. Frenkel JK. Pneumocystis pneumonia, an immunodeficiency-dependent disease (IDD): a critical historical overview. J Eukaryot Microbiol. 1999;46:89S92S.PubMed
  3. Frenkel JK. Pneumocystis jiroveci n. sp. from man: morphology, physiology, and immunology in relation to pathology. Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 1976;43:1330.PubMed
  4. International Association for Plant Taxonomy. International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (Vienna Code). [cited 2009 Jan 30] Available from
  5. Redhead SA, Cushion MT, Frenkel JK, Stringer JR. Pneumocystis and Trypanosoma cruzi: nomenclature and typifications. J Eukaryot Microbiol. 2006;53:211. DOIPubMed

Suggested citation for this article: Stringer JR, Beard CB, Miller RF. Spelling Pneumocystis jirovecii [letter]. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2009 Mar [date cited]. Available from

DOI: 10.3201/eid1503.081060

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Table of Contents – Volume 15, Number 3—March 2009


Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

James R. Stringer, Department of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry, and Microbiology, College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, ML 524 231 Albert Sabin Way, Cincinnati, OH 45267, USA

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