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Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. 2012 Jan;101(1):21-34. doi: 10.1007/s10482-011-9667-x. Epub 2011 Nov 25.

Prokaryotic systematics in the genomics era.

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Key Laboratory of Microbial Diversity in Southwest China, Ministry of Education and the Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Bio-Resources, Yunnan Institute of Microbiology, Yunnan University, Kunming, China.


As an essential and basic biological discipline, prokaryotic systematics is entering the era of genomics. This paradigmatic shift is significant not only for understanding molecular phylogeny at the whole genome level but also in revealing the genetic or epigenetic basis that accounts for the phenotypic criteria used to classify and identify species. These developments provide an opportunity and a challenge for systematists to reanalyze the molecular mechanisms underlying the taxonomic characteristics of prokaryotes by drawing the knowledge from studies of genomics and/or functional genomics employing platform technologies and related bioinformatics tools. It is expected that taxonomic books, such as Bergey's Manual of Systematic Bacteriology may evolve into a systematics library indexed by phylogenomic information with an comprehensive understanding of prokaryotic speciation and associated increasing knowledge of biological phenomena.

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