The phylogenetic positions of 40 strains were determined by performing a comparative sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA genes of these organisms. We found that all of the strains which we studied belong to cluster XIVa (M. D. Collins, P. A. Lawson, A. Willems. J. J. Cordoba, J. Fernandez-Garayzabal, P. Garcia, J. Cai, H. Hippe, and J. A. E. Farrow, Int. J. Syst. Bacteriol. 44:812-826, 1994) of the subphylum of the gram-positive bacteria, which also includes several , and species. We also found that the strains which we examined were genotypically heterogeneous and exhibited 12 distinct rRNA sequence types. The 12 rRNA sequence types formed three distinct lineages in cluster XIVa, which were separate from each other and from all other species belonging to this cluster. One lineage consisted of strains which exhibited a single rRNA and corresponded to the species . The second lineage consisted of 12 strains designated which exhibited seven distinct rRNA sequence types. The type strain of was a member of this lineage, but its position was peripheral. The third lineage comprised 26 strains which exhibited four distinct rRNA sequence types. Tree topology and sequence divergence considerations indicated that the three lineages correspond to three separate genera and that the genus should be restricted to the group that contains the type strain of


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