In addition to the grapevine flavescence dorée phytoplasmas, other members of taxonomic group 16SrV phytoplasmas infect grapevines, alders and species of the genera Clematis and Rubus in Europe. In order to investigate which phytoplasmas constitute discrete, species-level taxa, several strains were analysed by comparing their 16S rRNA gene sequences and a set of five housekeeping genes. Whereas 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity values were >97.5 %, the proposed threshold to distinguish two ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma’ taxa, phylogenetic analysis of the combined sequences of the tuf, rplV-rpsC, rplF-rplR, map and uvrB-degV genetic loci showed that two discrete phylogenetic clusters could be clearly distinguished. The first cluster grouped flavescence dorée (FD) phytoplasmas, alder yellows (AldY) phytoplasmas, Clematis (CL) phytoplasmas and the Palatinate grapevine yellows (PGY) phytoplasmas. The second cluster comprised Rubus stunt (RS) phytoplasmas. In addition to the specificity of the insect vector, the Rubus stunt phytoplasma contained specific sequences in the 16S rRNA gene. Hence, the Rubus stunt phytoplasma 16S rRNA gene was sufficiently differentiated to represent a novel putative taxon: ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma rubi’.
A novel thermophilic member of the family Thermaceae, designated strain 2M70-1T, was isolated from the wall of an active white smoker chimney collected in the Soria Moria vent field at 71 °N in the Norwegian–Greenland Sea. Cells of the strain were Gram-negative, non-motile rods. Growth was observed at 37–75 °C (optimum 65 °C), at pH 6–8 (optimum pH 7.3) and in 1–5 % (w/v) NaCl (optimum 2.5–3.5 %). The isolate was aerobic but could also grow anaerobically using nitrate or elemental sulfur as electron acceptors. The strain was obligately heterotrophic, growing on complex organic substrates like yeast extract, Casamino acids, tryptone and peptone. Pyruvate, acetate, butyrate, sucrose, rhamnose and maltodextrin were used as complementary substrates. The G+C content of the genomic DNA was 68 mol%. Cells possessed characteristic phospholipids and glycolipids. Major fatty acids constituted saturated and unsaturated iso-branched and saturated anteiso-branched forms. Menaquinone 8 was the sole respiratory lipoquinone. Phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences placed the strain in the family Thermaceae in the phylum ‘Deinococcus–Thermus’, which is consistent with the chemotaxonomic data. On the basis of phenotypic and phylogenetic data, strain 2M70-1T ( = JCM 15963T = DSM 22268T) represents the type strain of a novel species of a novel genus, for which the name Rhabdothermus arcticus gen. nov., sp. nov. is proposed.