The phenetic taxonomy of 305 strains of and related organisms was numerically studied by using 215 features, including 156 assimilation tests. A total of 200 field strains were isolated from spoiling meat, and 50 strains were isolated from freshwater or soil. In addition, 55 reference strains (including 23 type strains and 4 clinical strains) were obtained. The strains clustered into 25 clusters at the 75% level when the Jaccard similarity coefficient was used. The 10 clusters that were considered significant were assigned to the complex (131 strains), (40 strains), biovar 1 (27 strains), biovar 2 (5 strains), biovar 3 (6 strains), biovar 4 (16 strains), (3 strains), (4 strains), (2 strains), and (2 strains). The complex was further divided into subclusters; the major subcluster (comprising 93 strains, including the type strain) was regarded as sensu stricto. and allied bacteria closely matched the descriptions given by Stanier et al. (J. Gen. Microbiol. 43:159-271, 1966). The characteristics for the 10 significant clusters are given. Also given are criteria which differentiate the subclusters. The phylogenetic relationships among the meat-associated taxa were calculated. biovars 2 and 3 were clearly separated from the remaining taxa. Biovar 4 is the most conservative, while biovar 3 has evolved at the highest rate.


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