A numerical classification of the genus Bacillus

F. G. Priest, M. Goodfellow, C. Todd

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    Three hundred and sixty-eight strains of aerobic, endospore-forming bacteria which included type and reference cultures of Bacillus and environmental isolates were studied. Overal similarities of these strains for 118 unit characters were determined by the S(SM), S(J) and D(P) coefficients and clustering achieved using the UPGMA algorithm. Test error was within acceptable limits. Six cluster-groups were defined at 70% S(SM), which corresponded to 69% S(P) and 48-57% S(J). Groupings obtained with the three coefficients were generally similar but there were some changes in the definition and membership of cluster-groups and clusters, particularly with the S(J) coefficient. The Bacillus strains were distributed among 31 major (4 or more strains), 18 minor (2 or 3 strains) and 30 single-member clusters at the 83% S(SM) level. Most of these clusters can be regarded as taxospecies. The heterogeneity of several species, including Bacillus brevis, B. circulans, B. coagulans, B. megateriun, B. sphaericus and B. stearothermophilus, has been indicated and the species status of several taxa of hitherto uncertain validity confirmed. Thus on the basis of the numerical phenetic and appropriate (published) molecular genetic data, it is proposed that the following names be recognized; Bacillus flexus (Batchelor) nom. rev., Bacillus fusiformis (Smith et al.) comb. nov., Bacillus kaustophilus (Prickett) nom. rev., Bacillus psychosaccharolyticus (Larkin & Stokes) nom. rev. and Bacillus simplex (Gottheil) nom. rev. Other phenetically well-defined taxospecies included 'B. aneurinolyticus', 'B. apiarius', 'B. cascainensis', 'B. thiaminolyticus' and three clusters of environmental isolates related to B. firmus and previously described as 'B. firmus-B. lentus intermediates'. Future develoments in the light of the numerical phenetic data are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1847-1882
    Number of pages36
    JournalJournal of General Microbiology
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 1988


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