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Nat Biotechnol. 2018 Nov;36(10):996-1004. doi: 10.1038/nbt.4229. Epub 2018 Aug 27.

A standardized bacterial taxonomy based on genome phylogeny substantially revises the tree of life.

Author information

1
Australian Centre for Ecogenomics, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia.

Abstract

Taxonomy is an organizing principle of biology and is ideally based on evolutionary relationships among organisms. Development of a robust bacterial taxonomy has been hindered by an inability to obtain most bacteria in pure culture and, to a lesser extent, by the historical use of phenotypes to guide classification. Culture-independent sequencing technologies have matured sufficiently that a comprehensive genome-based taxonomy is now possible. We used a concatenated protein phylogeny as the basis for a bacterial taxonomy that conservatively removes polyphyletic groups and normalizes taxonomic ranks on the basis of relative evolutionary divergence. Under this approach, 58% of the 94,759 genomes comprising the Genome Taxonomy Database had changes to their existing taxonomy. This result includes the description of 99 phyla, including six major monophyletic units from the subdivision of the Proteobacteria, and amalgamation of the Candidate Phyla Radiation into a single phylum. Our taxonomy should enable improved classification of uncultured bacteria and provide a sound basis for ecological and evolutionary studies.

PMID:
30148503
DOI:
10.1038/nbt.4229

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