Microbiology Glossary - Usage Notes for Translators
Part 1 - German terms with English translations.
Part 2 - English terms and abbreviations with explanations.
Part 3 - Important usage notes for Translators.
1. These glossaries have been produced and presented for German <>
English translators, with no guarantees. Even after several editing sessions,
errors (or needed improvements) still appear.
2. Gattungsnamen und Artnamen / Genus and species names:
The genus and species (in the Linnean Latinized form) should be shown
in the original text in italics; e. g., Penicillium avellaneum.
Do not translate these terms. Sometimes the Latin name is followed by
the name of the person who described the family/genus/species (e. g.,
Salmonella typhi (Schroeter) Warren and Scott). Do not translate
the name. The original text often does not use italics properly.
Common genera are often abbreviated: E. coli = Escherichia coli;
Staph. aureus = Staphylococcus aureus. Do not attempt to
expand the abbreviations. The meaning of an abbreviation may depend on
The genus and species are often followed by a number; e. g., Salmonella
typhi ATCC 6539. As a general rule, leave the abbreviation as is (ATCC
= American Type Culture Collection; i. e., a collection of standard ‘type
cultures’, from which researchers may order specific species and strains)
Translators and readers should realize that microbiologists have an unholy
tendency to change these names. For instance, the plague organism was
once called Pasteurella pestis, but is now Yersinia pestis.
The organism that causes typhoid fever, once called Bacterium typhosus
became Eberthella typhosa and later Salmonella typhosa.
I recommend that you do not attempt to ‘update’ older names, even when
physicians refer to ‘Bacterium coli’. Leave this problem to the physicians
and microbiologists! (The change you make may not be the latest one!)
Note that there are names in both German and English which are directly
derived from the Latin names, but which are not actually Latin, and not
Actinomyceten, (but Aktinomycosen), Actinomyces, actinomycoses.
3. Chemical names: Much of microbiology is actually biochemistry. This
dictionary does not attempt to cover all the biochemical and chemical
terminology. Essigsäure and Milchsäure remain acetic acid and lactic acid
in the microbiological context. I have attempted to include names which
are particularly significant in microbiology, and those which might be
confusing, but do not assume that coverage is at all complete!
||Indicates an enzyme which acts on the material
named in the rest of the word (e. g., dextransucrase, which converts
sucrose to dextran, or amylase, which hydrolyzes amylose)
|| Indicates a polysaccharide (e.
g., dextran, xanthan)
|| Indicates a sugar (e. g., glucose, sucrose) or polysaccharide
(amylose) (always a suffix, not a separate word, as seen in crossword
Some confusion arises because some writers treat acids (e. g., pyruvic
acid) as the free acids, while others discuss them as their anions (e.
g., pyruvate). This is partly a matter of style. Nearly all acids will
occur as the anions at the pH inside living organisms. Nutrients and products
might be either free acids or their salts.
4. Genetic engineering/Molecular biology: I have not (at least for now)
attempted to translate terms in these fields, even though microorganisms
are used extensively. Because it is a relatively new field being developed
internationally, most of the terms are essentially the same in German
5. Translators should remember that Z and C may be interchanged (Zyto-,
Cyto-), as well as C and K (Actinomycosis, Aktinomycose).
6. Dictionaries: I originally started the German-English glossary because
I found existing biological and chemical dictionaries inadequate. Since
then, I have found “Dictionnaire de Microbiologie” (French-English-German).
Definitions are in French, with English>French, German>French, English>German
and German>English indices. ISBN: 2-85319-262-8; published by Conseil
international de la langue francaise, Paris 1995.
Other (non-dictionary) sources of information:
Merck Index (now 13th edition), for US English chemical names
and information; particularly good for pharmaceuticals.
textbooks. Note typical division into general (beginning); industrial;
food; dairy; water; and medical books.
Note, too, that an older text (ca. 1950) will often be more helpful than
a modern one.
Laboratory apparatus catalogs and chemical catalogs. The Sigma catalog
is particularly helpful (see www.sigma-aldrich.com).
The Difco Manual: details on microbiological media made by Difco.
7. Notes on alcoholic beverages:
Many US definitions are from regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms, and may change.
‘Beer’ is not just a beverage; it is a general term for a fermented grain
Beer (the beverage) is basically made from malted barley, hops, water
and yeast. Wheat or rice are sometimes used. One reference states that
“malt adjuncts are used in the United States owing to the fact that barleys
used for the preparation of malt in this country are richer in protein
than barleys used in European countries. A high nitrogen content is usually
undesirable, as it tends to produce a satiating and relatively unstable
A very incomplete list:
||produced by top fermentation; pale in color, tart in
taste, high in alcohol, and contains more hops than does beer
||West African drink from tubercles of Osbeckia grandiflora
||heavy, dark in color, high in alcohol; brewed
for consumption in early spring.
||distilled; made from corn (maize), barley
malt or wheat malt, and usually another grain; must contain at least
51% corn (usually 70%)
||beer containing less than 0.5% alcohol
||fermented from sugar and pieces of ginger root
||fermented from barley malt, rye malt, and rye flour;
flavored with peppermint
||produced by bottom fermentation, relatively high in
alcohol and low in hops
||US Slang for whiskey made without paying tax. Normally
from corn, but reportedly sugar alone is used in large-scale production
|| beer containing less than 0.5% alcohol
||fermented from millet seed
||dark ale, high in extract and sweeter than the usual
ale; from malt roasted at high temperature
||fermented from juice of agave (century plant); because
of bacteria content, spoils rapidly
||alcoholic distillate from fermented juice of sugarcane,
sugarcane syrup, sugarcane molasses, or other sugarcane byproducts
||from rye and rye malt, or rye and barley malt; must
contain at least 51% rye (usually about 80%)
|| fermented from Sorghum saccharatum
||porter that is high in alcohol and extract; dark, sweet,
strong malt flavor; more hops than porter
|| fermented from milk
||made mainly from wheat by top fermentation
||alcoholic distillate from fermented mash of grain
Safety in genetic engineering work:
B0 Genetic engineering experiments within one species
B1 Experiments with E. coli K12 and B. substilis,
and their plasmids and phages
B2 Experiments with E. coli chi 1776, its plasmids
and phages; tissue culture work.
L1 Aseptic technique; trained personnel
L2 Laboratory signs; sterile work benches; autoclave
in the laboratory
L3 Closed laboratory with air locks and reduced pressure;
L4 Closed, windowless building; exhaust air and wastewater
decontaminated; shower rooms thermally disinfected; gas-tight work benches
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