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Int J Syst Evol Microbiol. 2016 Nov;66(11):4422-4432. doi: 10.1099/ijsem.0.001367. Epub 2016 Aug 2.

The natural history of cutaneous propionibacteria, and reclassification of selected species within the genus Propionibacterium to the proposed novel genera Acidipropionibacterium gen. nov., Cutibacterium gen. nov. and Pseudopropionibacterium gen. nov.

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1​Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.


The genus Propionibacterium in the family Propionibacteriaceaeconsists of species of various habitats, including mature cheese, cattle rumen and human skin. Traditionally, these species have been grouped as either classical or cutaneous propionibacteria based on characteristic phenotypes and source of isolation. To re-evaluate the taxonomy of the family and to elucidate the interspecies relatedness we compared 162 public whole-genome sequences of strains representing species of the family Propionibacteriaceae. We found substantial discrepancies between the phylogenetic signals of 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis and our high-resolution core-genome analysis. To accommodate these discrepancies, and to address the long-standing issue of the taxonomically problematic Propionibacterium propionicum, we propose three novel genera, Acidipropionibacterium gen. nov., Cutibacterium gen. nov. and Pseudopropionibacterium gen. nov., and an amended description of the genus Propionibacterium. Furthermore, our genome-based analyses support the amounting evidence that the subdivision of Propionibacterium freudenreichii into subspecies is not warranted. Our proposals are supported by phylogenetic analyses, DNA G+C content, peptidoglycan composition and patterns of the gene losses and acquisitions in the cutaneous propionibacteria during their adaptation to the human host.

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