Christoph recently brought to my attention a resource for anyone interested in a brief introduction to coccolithophores, with particular emphasis on Emiliania huxleyi. Christoph knew well that I, as a fan of this microalga, would enjoy the site. This got me thinking about Ehux (its endearing name that many use) yet once more. By the way, Ehux was named to honor Thomas Huxley and Cesare Emiliani, two key investigators in the early studies of the coccoliths found in ocean sediments. Long-time STC readers will know that we find Ehux fascinating; there are so many past posts on it that I will not try to list them here; just google "small things considered emiliania" and you'll see. How can one not be fascinated by Ehux? Aside from the beauty of the calcium carbonate coccoliths that encase it, its roles in the carbon and sulfur cycles make it a current player on Earth's climate and its relics help in the reconstruction of past climates. The last few decades have witnessed a huge increase in Ehux research which in turn has led to an enormous growth of interest in it by the public. There's now a large amount of readily accessible information for anyone to learn as much as they want about Ehux.
Thus, it was with very mixed feelings that in a recent paper I read the following statement: "...our phylogenomic results support the use of the species name Gephyrocapsa huxleyi instead of the commonly used Emiliania huxleyi as this lineage is nested within the Gephyrocapsa genus. Hence, we hereafter use G. huxleyi instead of E. huxleyi." Goodbye Ehux, hello Ghux?? I do not question that this new proposed taxonomy accurately reflects phylogeny. But it does bother me enormously that if the new name is widely adopted, future students may not ever study the very important knowledge deposited under the name Emiliania. Searches for Gephyrocapsa huxleyi may not yield the wealth of information associated to Emiliania huxleyi. For a microbe with such hugely important implications in the current climate change crisis, it would be shame to have its past forgotten in the future because of the present name change.