To confirm the phylogenetic analysis previously inferred by comparison of the citrate synthase and rOmpA gene sequences (gitA and ompA, respectively), the rOmpB gene (ompB) of 24 strains of the genus Rickettsia was amplified and sequenced. rOmpB is an outer-membrane protein of high molecular mass, the presence of which can be demonstrated in most rickettsiae by immunological cross-reactivity in Western blots. No PCR amplification was obtained with Rickettsia bellii or Rickettsia canadensis. For the other rickettsiae, phylogenetic analysis was inferred from the comparison of both the gene and derived protein sequences by using parsimony, maximum-likelihood and neighbour-joining methods which gave the same organization. All nodes were well supported (>86% bootstrap values), except in the cluster including Rickettsia africae strain S and Rickettsia parkeri, and this analysis confirmed the previously established phylogeny obtained from combining results from gltA and ompA. Based on phylogenetic data, the current classification of the genus Rickettsia is inappropriate, specifically its division into two groups, typhus and spotted fever. Integration of phenotypic, genotypic and phylogenetic data will contribute to the definition of a polyphasic taxonomy as has been done for other bacterial genera.


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