Two strains of a Gram-positive, catalase-negative, facultatively anaerobic, rod-shaped bacterium isolated from common seals were characterized using phenotypic and molecular taxonomic methods. The two strains closely resembled each other based on their biochemical characteristics, and PAGE analysis of whole-cell protein patterns confirmed their close phenotypic affinity. 16S rRNA gene sequencing showed that the two strains were genetically highly related (99.8% sequence similarity) and that they constitute a new line of descent within the lactic acid group of bacteria. The nearest phylogenetic neighbours of the unknown bacterium were Granulicatella spp., with related taxa such as enterococci, carnobacteria, Desemzia incerta, Lactosphaera pasteurii, Melissococcus plutonius, tetragenococci and vagococci more distantly related. Based on phylogenetic and phenotypic evidence it is proposed that the unknown bacterium from seals be classified in a new genus as Atopobacter phocae gen. nov., sp. nov. The type strain of Atopobacter phocae is CCUG 42358T (= CIP 106392T).


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