Three isolates of gram-negative bacteria, strains Ben 102, Ben 103, and Ben 104, were obtained in pure culture by micromanipulation from activated sludge biomass from wastewater treatment plants in Italy, Australia, and Macau, respectively. These isolates all had a distinctive morphology; the cells were cocci that usually were arranged in tetrads. Based on this criterion, they resembled other bacteria from activated sludge previously called “G” bacteria. On the basis of phenotypic characteristics and the results of 16S ribosomal DNA sequence analyses, the three isolates were very similar to each other, but were sufficiently different from their closest phylogenetic relatives (namely, the genera , and in the α subdivision of the ) to be placed in a new genus, gen. nov. Each of the three isolates represents a new species of the genus Ben 102, Ben 103, and Ben 104are named , respectively. An isolate designated Ben 101, which was isolated independently by Cech and Hartman in Kaplice, Czech Republic, was also characterized and belongs to the same genus. We propose that the isolate of Cech and Hartman should be placed in another new species, .


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