The key difference between lectotype and neotype is that lectotype is a specimen designated as the nomenclatural type when the original author of the name did not designate a holotype, while neotype is a specimen selected to replace a holotype that has been lost or destroyed.
In taxonomy, a type refers to a specimen, a culture, or an illustration that serves as a reference material at the time of publishing its scientific name and species description. In botany, a type is always a specimen or illustration. A specimen is a real plant that is kept dried and safely. Type specimens of plants are nicely filed and preserved in herbaria for the use of botanists. Some type specimens are kept in museums or similar institutions. There are several types of type specimens. Some of them are holotype, isotype, syntype, isosyntype, lectotype, neotype, paratype, and topotype. Holotype is the specimen or illustration that is indicated as the nomenclatural type of a name. Lectotype is a specimen designated as the ‘type’ of a species when there is no previously designated holotype by the author of the name. Neotype is a specimen that has been selected to replace the holotype when the holotype has been lost or destroyed.
What is Lectotype?
A lectotype is a specimen that has been designated as the type or nomenclatural type of a species when no holotype was designated by the original author of the name at the time of publication. In other words, a lectotype is a type specimen designated when the original author of the name did not designate a holotype for that particular material and description. The ideal way to select a lectotype is from the syntypes or original material. Therefore, whenever lectotypes are selected, syntypes should be evaluated and selected first.
What is Neotype?
A neotype is a specimen that is selected to replace the nomenclatural type of a species. Normally, the designation of a neotype is done when the holotype is lost or destroyed. There is a published original description, but there is no nomenclatural type specimen. At that time, a specimen is selected to act as the type material for the description, and it is the type known as neotype.
Unlike in lectotypes, in neotypes, the original author of the name has designated a holotype. But it is lost or suppressed. Hence, a neotype is served as the nomenclatural type for the original description. Though there are some recommendations for the selection of neotypes, they can be selected from any specimen that agrees with the characters of the named type. Thus, the most appropriate specimen is selected as the neotype.
What are the Similarities Between Lectotype and Neotype?
- Lectotype and neotype are two types of ‘type’ specimens.
- Both lectotype and neotype are selected to serve as the nomenclatural type.
- They are designated when there is no holotype.
- Both types are not designated by the original author of the name.
What is the Difference Between Lectotype and Neotype?
Lectotype is the specimen that serves as the nomenclatural type when no type is designated in the original publication, while neotype is the specimen that serves as the nomenclatural type when the holotype is lost or destroyed. So, this is the key difference between lectotype and neotype. Moreover, lectotypes are selected commonly from the syntypes, while neotypes are selected from any specimen that agrees with the original description.
The following infographic summarizes the difference between lectotype and neotype in tabular form.
Summary – Lectotype vs Neotype
A holotype is the single type specimen designated at the time of publication by the original author of the name. They are the voucher specimens for a name. A lectotype is a specimen served as the type specimen when no holotype was indicated at the time of publication. A neotype is a specimen served as the type specimen when the holotype is lost or destroyed. Both lectotype and neotype are later considered as the nomenclatural type of a species. Thus, this summarizes the difference between lectotype and neotype.
1. “About Type Specimens – Type Specimens in the University of Florida Herbarium.” Florida Museum of Natural History.
2. “Type (Biology).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Aug. 2021.
1. “Sabatinca lucilia Lectotype specimen” By Auckland War Memorial Museum – (CC BY 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Colias aurorina anna male Neotype 01 ventral side ZSM” By Josef Grieshuber – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia