Wikipedia:WikiProject Prokaryotes and protists

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This WikiProject aims to organize the relatively small collection of articles on bacteria, archaea, protists, and higher algae. Although diverse, many of the same concerns apply to these groups and much of the interest overlaps. This is a direct offshoot of WikiProject Tree of Life.

Article structure[edit]

Classification of these groups has been especially variable, as biologists change from systems emphasizing phenotypic categories to phylogenetic groups, which are often uncertain. Among the prokaryotes, Bergey's Manual provides a sort of standard, but for protists it would be very misleading to suggest any one particular system should be preferred. The articles should reflect this.

There should be articles for both phylogenetic and phenotypic groups, with details on the correspondence between the two if possible. This information is often difficult to find, so wikipedia would be providing a valuable service by collecting it. Articles should use common names whenever they exist and are reasonably consistent, since they are generally more stable than the scientific names. For instance, purple non-sulfur bacteria used to make up the Rhodospirillaceae, but are now split among a variety of different families.

Not every group needs an article. Many protists and bacteria are distinguished by very technical details, and are better described in the article for the containing group. In general, separate organisms with notable phenotypic differences, and not ones distinguished mainly by genetic studies unless they contain other distinctive subgroups. Try to include information about what physical characteristics set the group apart or what types of organisms it contains, how they can be recognised, what environments they inhabit , how large they are, and any importance they might have to people.


Taxoboxes should be given for phylogenetic groups. There is rarely enough room to describe multiple classifications, so to avoid suggesting they only exist some of the time, the taxoboxes in general should only present a single system. In cases of particular uncertainty, the sections may be labelled things like "typical orders" or "possible orders".

The classification should use monophyletic or at least paraphyletic groups whenever they are reasonably well-recognised. Levels may be omitted when the placement is extremely uncertain, or when only polyphyletic taxa are common. For instance the centrohelids are often placed in a polyphyletic class Heliozoa, but this group also includes the actinophryids which have a known phylogenetic placement elsewhere, so it is better not to use it as a formal taxon (just a phenotypic group).

Eukaryotes are divided into supergroups, for example, chromalveolata, excavata, rhizaria, archaeplastida, and unikont. Although we use versions of this system for things like taxobox coloration, caution is called for. Articles like Eukaryote have some references to articles concerning the latest research, but some of those groups are better-supported by the evidence than others (as of 2007). For example, it is often preferable to just say "X is a heterokont" and leave it to articles like heterokont and eukaryote to worry about how heterokonts relate to other groups.

Things like conservation status and range maps are almost never appropriate for microbes, so are best left out.

Placement and composition[edit]

Changes in rank and exact naming of groups - e.g. comparing Cryptophyta, Cryptophyceae, Cryptophycophyta, etc. - are probably not worth detailing. Articles should discuss the main variations in placement and composition of the groups, though, and ideas about their relationships. It would be nice to include both modern ideas and historic development.

When possible, articles should reference the original papers:

  • that defined the group, or gave it is modern meaning,
  • that show whether it is monophyletic or not,
  • that describe its internal or external relationships

Plus any other papers or literature of particular interest.


The main categories are Category:Bacteria and Category:Protista, and to avoid being overloaded should only include articles on top-level subgroups, or groups that have been considered top-level in the past. Subcategories are more flexible, and should probably include all relevant pages, since they can be difficult to keep track of. Split off new subcategories when they get to be around 10 articles, perhaps less if they look like they have potential to grow.

There are not many images available for these groups, and again they are difficult to keep track of, so they should be added to Category:Protist images. To make this useful, images should be given readable names that accurately describe what they are.