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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2006 Nov 29;361(1475):1911-6.

Stepping stones towards a new prokaryotic taxonomy.

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  • 1Laboratory of Microbiology and BCCM/LMG Bacteria Collection, Ghent University, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, 9000 Gent, Belgium.


Technological developments provide new insights into prokaryotic evolution and diversity and provoke a continuous need to update taxonomy and revise classification schemes. Our present species concept and definition are being challenged by the growing amount of whole genomic information, which should allow improvements in the natural species definition. The continuous quest for an objective and stable method for sorting strains into coherent homogeneous groups is inherent to prokaryotic systematics and nomenclature. Morphological, biochemical, physiological, phenotypic and chemotaxonomic criteria have been complemented by molecular data and pragmatic, purpose built, species definitions are being replaced by more natural ones based on evolutionary insights. It is imperative to give due consideration to both fundamental and applied aspects of future species concepts and definitions. The present paper discusses the present practice in prokaryotic taxonomy of how this system developed and how it may evolve in the future.

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