The Mycoplasma lipophilum cluster (Weisburg et al. 1989) in the hominis group of the mollicutes is re-evaluated in this work to update the phylogenetic framework for classification of species within the genus Mycoplasma. Therefore, sequences of the 16S rRNA gene were determined from previously described species, and 11 were found to be closely related to the M. lipophilum cluster. A selection of members of the other hitherto defined clusters of the hominis group was included for phylogenetic analysis, revealing that the classical M. lipophilum cluster could be re-organized into two clusters, namely the M. lipophilum cluster and the Mycoplasma bovis cluster. The former was found to contain two species, while the latter contained 20 species. The two clusters were closely related, sharing an ancestral branch with the Mycoplasma synoviae cluster. Furthermore, the M. bovis cluster could be divided into subclusters. Interestingly, two species, Mycoplasma equigenitalium and Mycoplasma elephantis, formed a distinct and early branch of the M. lipophilum, M. bovis and M. synoviae clusters. This entity was termed the M. equigenitalium cluster. The clusters and subclusters could be verified by using neighbour-joining and maximum-likelihood analyses on a variety of data sets, bootstrap calculations, secondary structure analysis and signature nucleotides. Therefore, the new 16S rDNA data presented in this work were used to re-evaluate the M. lipophilum cluster, leading to the definition of two additional clusters. At present, the mollicutes belonging to the hominis group can be classified into ten evolutionary lineages.


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