A brief summary of the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) relatedness of members of the family is presented. The application and utility of DNA relatedness to bacterial taxonomy are discussed in order to stimulate greater awareness and use of this technique. Applications include: (i) the recognition of new taxa; (ii) the identification of grossly atypical strains in a taxon; (iii) the classification of poorly studied groups of organisms; and (iv) changes in existing classifications. Also discussed are the identification and differentiation of bacteria in the clinical laboratory. Guidelines for the molecular definition of species are presented.


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