'Flexispira rappini' is a provisional name given to gram-negative, microaerophilic, motile, spindle-shaped micro-organisms with spiral periplasmic fibres and bipolar tufts of sheathed flagella. Several investigators, including Kirkbride, Romero, and Archer isolated strains possessing this morphology. Previously, the phylogenetic position of three 'Flexispira rappini' strains was determined by 165 rRNA sequencing, which indicated that flexispira were members of the genus Helicobacter. As more organisms with 'F. rappini' morphology were isolated, it became apparent that there were multiple Helicobacter taxa with this distinctive morphology. The purpose of this study was to examine a collection of 36 'F. rappini' strains from diverse habitats by using 165 rRNA sequence analysis. The strains fell into 10 taxa, each possibly representing a novel Helicobacter species. Two of these flexispira taxa were previously named, by us, Helicobacter bilis and Helicobacter trogontum. Currently, none of the flexispira taxa contains enough phenotypically and genotypically characterized strains to be formally named 'Helicobacter rappinii'.


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