The current taxonomic classification of is based on limited phenotypic, morphologic and genetic criteria. This classification does not take into account recent analysis of the ribosomal operon or recently identified obligately intracellular organisms that have a chlamydia-like developmental cycle of replication. Neither does it provide a systematic rationale for identifying new strains. In this study, phylogenetic analyses of the 16S and 23S rRNA genes are presented with corroborating genetic and phenotypic information to show that the order contains at least four distinct groups at the family level and that within the are two distinct lineages which branch into nine separate clusters. In this report a reclassification of the order and its current taxa is proposed. This proposal retains currently known strains with > 90% 16S rRNA identity in the family and separates other chlamydia-like organisms that have 80--90% 16S rRNA relatedness to the into new families. Chlamydiae that were previously described as ‘ Parachlamydia acanthamoebae’ Amann, Springer, Schönhuber, Ludwig, Schmid, Müller and Michel 1997, become members of fam. nov., gen. nov., sp. nov. ‘’ strain Z becomes the founding member of fam. nov., Simkania negevensis gen. nov., sp. nov. The fourth group, which includes strain WSU 86--1044, was left unnamed. The , which currently has only the genus , is divided into two genera, and gen. nov. Two new species, sp. nov. and sp. nov., join in the emended genus gen. nov. assimilates the current species, and , to form comb. nov., comb. nov. and comb. nov. Three new species are derived from : gen. nov., sp. nov., gen. nov., sp. nov. and gen. nov., sp. nov. Emended descriptions for the order and for the family are provided. These families, genera and species are readily distinguished by analysis of signature sequences in the 165 and 235 ribosomal genes.


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