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Syst Appl Microbiol. 2010 Jun;33(4):175-82. doi: 10.1016/j.syapm.2010.03.003. Epub 2010 Apr 20.

En route to a genome-based classification of Archaea and Bacteria?

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DSMZ - German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures, Inhoffenstrasse 7B, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany.


Given the considerable promise whole-genome sequencing offers for phylogeny and classification, it is surprising that microbial systematics and genomics have not yet been reconciled. This might be due to the intrinsic difficulties in inferring reasonable phylogenies from genomic sequences, particularly in the light of the significant amount of lateral gene transfer in prokaryotic genomes. However, recent studies indicate that the species tree and the hierarchical classification based on it are still meaningful concepts, and that state-of-the-art phylogenetic inference methods are able to provide reliable estimates of the species tree to the benefit of taxonomy. Conversely, we suspect that the current lack of completely sequenced genomes for many of the major lineages of prokaryotes and for most type strains is a major obstacle in progress towards a genome-based classification of microorganisms. We conclude that phylogeny-driven microbial genome sequencing projects such as the Genomic Encyclopaedia of Archaea and Bacteria (GEBA) project are likely to rectify this situation.

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