Twenty-four strains isolated mainly from infected respiratory tracts of pigeons were characterized by an integrated genotypic and phenotypic approach. An extensive biochemical examination using conventional tests and several API microtest systems indicated that all isolates formed a phenotypically homogeneous taxon with a DNA G+C content between 42 and 43 mol%. Whole-cell protein and fatty acid analysis revealed an unexpected heterogeneity which was confirmed by DNA-DNA hybridizations. Four main genotypic sub-groups (genomovars) were delineated. 16S rDNA sequence analysis of a representative strain indicated that this taxon belongs to the beta-subclass of the with as its closest neighbour (about 94·8% similarity). A comparison of phenotypic and genotypic characteristics of both taxa suggested that the pigeon isolates represented a novel genus for which the name is proposed. In the absence of differential phenotypic characteristics between the genomovars, it was preferred to include all of the isolates into a single species, , and strain LMG 10982 was selected as the type strain. The latter strain belongs to fatty acid cluster I and protein electrophoretic sub-group 1, which comprise 13 and 5 isolates, respectively. It is not unlikely that the name will be restricted in the future to organisms belonging to fatty acid cluster I, or even to protein electrophoretic sub-group 1, upon discovery of differential diagnostic features.


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