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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.

Usage notes:

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. aureusStaphylococcus aureus. Do not attempt to expand the abbreviations. The meaning of an abbreviation may depend on the context.

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 italiziced:

Actinomycetaceae, Actinomyces, 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!

Possibly helpful:

-ase 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)
-an Indicates a polysaccharide (e. g., dextran, xanthan)
-ose Indicates a sugar (e. g., glucose, sucrose) or polysaccharide (amylose)  (always a suffix, not a separate word, as seen in crossword puzzles)

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 and English.

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.

Microbiology/bacteriology 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 mash.

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 beer.”

A very incomplete list:

Ale: produced by top fermentation; pale in color, tart in taste, high in alcohol, and contains more hops than does beer
Biti: West African drink from tubercles of Osbeckia grandiflora
Bock beer: heavy, dark in color, high in alcohol; brewed for consumption in early spring.
Bourbon: distilled; made from corn (maize), barley malt or wheat malt, and usually another grain; must contain at least 51% corn (usually 70%)
Cereal beverage: beer containing less than 0.5% alcohol
Ginger beer: fermented from sugar and pieces of ginger root
Kvass: fermented from barley malt, rye malt, and rye flour; flavored with peppermint
Lager beer: produced by bottom fermentation, relatively high in alcohol and low in hops
Moonshine: US Slang for whiskey made without paying tax. Normally from corn, but reportedly sugar alone is used in large-scale production
Near beer: beer containing less than 0.5% alcohol
Pombe: fermented from millet seed
Porter: dark ale, high in extract and sweeter than the usual ale; from malt roasted at high temperature
Pulque: fermented from juice of agave (century plant); because of bacteria content, spoils rapidly
Rum: alcoholic distillate from fermented juice of sugarcane, sugarcane syrup, sugarcane molasses, or other sugarcane byproducts
Rye whiskey: from rye and rye malt, or rye and barley malt; must contain at least 51% rye (usually about 80%)
Sorgho: fermented from Sorghum saccharatum
Stout: porter that is high in alcohol and extract; dark, sweet, strong malt flavor; more hops than porter
Taette: fermented from milk
Weiss:  made mainly from wheat by top fermentation
Whiskey: alcoholic distillate from fermented mash of grain

Safety in genetic engineering work: 

Biologische Sicherheitskriterien:

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.

Physikalische Sicherheitskriterien:

L1    Aseptic technique; trained personnel

L2    Laboratory signs; sterile work benches; autoclave in the laboratory

L3    Closed laboratory with air locks and reduced pressure; protective clothing

L4    Closed, windowless building; exhaust air and wastewater decontaminated; shower rooms thermally disinfected; gas-tight work benches

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