The current taxonomic classification of Chlamydia is based on limited phenotypic, morphologic and genetic criteria. This classification does not take into account recent analysis of the ribosomal operon or recently identified obligately intracellular organisms that have a chlamydia-like developmental cycle of replication. Neither does it provide a systematic rationale for identifying new strains. In this study, phylogenetic analyses of the 16S and 23S rRNA genes are presented with corroborating genetic and phenotypic information to show that the order Chlamydiales contains at least four distinct groups at the family level and that within the Chlamydiaceae are two distinct lineages which branch into nine separate clusters. In this report a reclassification of the order Chlamydiales and its current taxa is proposed. This proposal retains currently known strains with > 90% 16S rRNA identity in the family Chlamydiaceae and separates other chlamydia-like organisms that have 80--90% 16S rRNA relatedness to the Chlamydiaceae into new families. Chlamydiae that were previously described as ‘Candidatus Parachlamydia acanthamoebae’ Amann, Springer, Schönhuber, Ludwig, Schmid, Müller and Michel 1997, become members of Parachlamydiaceae fam. nov., Parachlamydia acanthamoebae gen. nov., sp. nov. ‘Simkania’ strain Z becomes the founding member of Simkaniaceae fam. nov., Simkania negevensis gen. nov., sp. nov. The fourth group, which includes strain WSU 86--1044, was left unnamed. The Chlamydiaceae, which currently has only the genus Chlamydia, is divided into two genera, Chlamydia and Chlamydophila gen. nov. Two new species, Chlamydia muridarum sp. nov. and Chlamydia suis sp. nov., join Chlamydia trachomatis in the emended genus Chlamydia. Chlamydophila gen. nov. assimilates the current species, Chlamydia pecorum, Chlamydia pneumoniae and Chlamydia psittaci, to form Chlamydophila pecorum comb. nov., Chlamydophila pneumoniae comb. nov. and Chlamydophila psittaci comb. nov. Three new Chlamydophila species are derived from Chlamydia psittaci: Chlamydophila abortus gen. nov., sp. nov., Chlamydophila caviae gen. nov., sp. nov. and Chlamydophila felis gen. nov., sp. nov. Emended descriptions for the order Chlamydiales and for the family Chlamydiaceae are provided. These families, genera and species are readily distinguished by analysis of signature sequences in the 165 and 235 ribosomal genes.
The structural gene encoding the 16S rRNA of the new obligate intracellular organism presently designated WSU 86-1044Twas sequenced and analysed to establish its phylogenetic relationships. The 16S rDNA sequence was most closely related to those of chlamydial species, having 84.7--85.3% sequence similarity, while it had 72.4-73.2% similarity with rickettsia-like organisms. When the sequences of the four species of chlamydiae and Chlamydophila psittaci, Chlamydia trachomatis, Chlamydophila pneumoniae and Chlamydophila pecorum) were compared, they had > 93% sequence similarity indicating tha WSU 86--1044Twas not close enough to be in the same family as current Chlamydiaceae members. However, based on the 84.7--85.3% 16S rDNA sequence similarity of WSU 86--1044Tand other previously described characteristics, WSU 86--1044Tbelongs to a novel family within the order Chlamydiales; hence, the proposal of Waddliaceae fam. nov., Waddlia chondrophila gen. nov., sp. nov.
Progenies from some wild-caught females of Drosophila willistoni and three other sibling species are entirely female. The proclivity for production of unisexual female progeny by these flies was named the sex ratio (SR) trait and was originally thought to be genetic. However, experiments in the laboratory of Donald F. Poulson in the early 1960s demonstrated that this ‘trait’ was vertically transmitted and infectious, in that it could be artificially transferrd by injection from infected females to non-infected females. Motile, helical micro-organisms were observed in females showing the trait. In 1979, the SR organisms were designated as group II in the informal spiroplasma classification system. The organisms proved to be extremely fastidious, but were eventually cultivated in a very complex cell-free medium (H-2) after initial co-cultivation with insect cells. Cultivation in the H-2 medium and the subsequent availability of a triply cloned strain (DW-1T) permitted comparaltiv studies. Cells of strain DW-1Twere helical, motile filaments 200--250 nm in diameter and were bound by a single trilaminar membrane. Cells plated on 1.8% Noble agar formed small satellite-free colonies 60--70 μm in diameter with dense centres and uneven edges. The temperature range for growth was 26--30 °C; optimum growth occurred at 30 °C, with a doubling time in H-2 medium of 15.8 h. The strain passed through filters with 220 nm, but not 100 nm, pores. Reciprocal serological comparisons of strain DW-1Twith representatives of other spiroplasma groups showed an extensive pattern of one-way crossing when strain DW-1Twas used as antigen. However, variable, usually low-level reciprocal cross-reactions were observed between strain DW 1Tand representatives of group I sub-groups. The genome size of strain DW-1Twas 2040 kbp, as determined by PFGE. The G+C content was 26·1 mol%, as determined by buoyant density and melting point methods. The serological and molecular data indicate that strain DW-1Tis separated from group I representative strains sufficiently to justify retention of its group status. Continued group designation is also indicated by the ability of SR spiroplasma to induce male lethality in Drosophila, their vertical transmissibility and their extremely fastidious growth requirements. Group II spiroplasmas, represented by strain DW-1T(ATCC 43153T), are designated Spiroplasma poulsonii.
Simkania negevensis is the type species of Simkaniaceae, a recently proposed family in the order Chlamydiales. In the current study, growth, antigenic and genomic characteristics of this intracellular bacterium were investigated and compared to those of members of the family Chlamydiaceae. Growth of the organism, as assessed by infectivity assays, reached a plateau in 2--3 d although by light microscopy the cytopathic effect on the host cells increased for 12 or more days after infection. S. negevensis growth was unaffected by sulfadiazine. Cells infected by S. negevensis strain ZTwere not recognized by either of two monoclonal antibodies specific for Chlamydiaceae LPS and several specific Chlamydiaceae ompA primers were unable to PCR amplify a S. negevensis gene. The S. negevensis genome contained one copy of the ribosomal operon. The genome size of S. negevensis strain ZTwas determined by PFGE to be 1·7 Mbp, and the G+C content was 42·5 mol%. These data, taken together with other published data, are consistent with the proposal that S. negevensis belongs to a distinct family in the order Chlamydiales.
DNA relatedness was determined among 303 strains of Leptospira and Leptonema. Included in the analysis were reference strains from 228 well-characterized and recognized serovars. The study included 268 serovars from 29 named and one or more unnamed serogroups. The strains clustered into 17 DNA hybridization groups, representing 12 previously described species (292 strains) and five new genomospecies (11 strains). The largest groups included Leptospira interrogans (91 strains from 82 serovars), Leptospira santarosai (61 strains from 59 serovars), Leptospira borgpetersenii (49 strains from 43 serovars), Leptospira kirschneri (29 strains from 26 serovars) and Leptospira noguchii (20 strains from 20 serovars). The new genomospecies include Leptospira genomospecies 1 (two strains, serovars pinagchang and sichuan), Leptospira genomospecies 2 (six strains, serovars lushui, manhao 3, manzhuang, nanding, mengla and yunnan), Leptospira genomospecies 3 (one strain, serovar holland), Leptospira genomospecies 4 (one strain, serovar hualin) and Leptospira genomospecies 5 (one strain, serovar saopaulo). With the exception of Ballum, all serogroups with greater than one serovar studied were genetically heterogeneous. Phenotypic tests, including optimal growth temperature, lipase activity and growth inhibition by copper sulfate or 2,6-diaminopurine, were of little use in differentiating DNA relatedness groups. The name Leptospira alexanderi sp. nov. is proposed for Leptospira genomospecies 2 (type strain L 60T= ATCC 700520T, serovar manhao 3).