Taxonomy and Phylogeny of Prokaryotes
Classification of prokaryotes is hierarchically organized into seven levels: kingdoms, phyla, classes, orders, families, genera, and species. In prokaryotes, because they reproduce by clonal fission, the species, considered as the basic unit of the biological diversity, faces several problems such as the definition of an individual. A bacterial strain can be recognized as an individual belonging to a species. However, many inconsistencies exist between phenotypic similarity levels and evolutionary relationships deduced from molecular phylogenies. Most taxonomic groups have been reconsidered through phylogenetic analysis in the 1980s, and a consensus has been reached on the need for coherence between taxonomy and phylogeny. Thus, the multiple revisions of species, genera, or higher taxonomic levels pose many complex problems that are solved gradually. Prokaryotic microorganisms correspond to two of the three domains of life: Archaea and Bacteria. Their systematics is described in the “Bergey’s Manual for Systematic Bacteriology, second edition” published in five volumes.
In the text, the Latin terms used are those accepted by the Nomenclature Committee, and the organization of the bacterial and archaeal domains is presented as they appear in the “Bergey’s Manual for Systematic Bacteriology.” They are discussed according to the recent data of the hierarchical classification of Prokaryotes.
Keywords16S RNA homology Archaea Bacteria Bacterial taxonomy Dendrogram DNA/DNA hybridization Domains G + C% Genotypic criteria Phenotypic criteria Phylogenetic tree Phyla Systematics of prokaryotes
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