Four strains of aerobic, endospore-forming bacteria were isolated from the inner tissues of healthy cotton plants (Gossypium sp., Dushanbe, Tajikistan). The organisms had identical randomly amplified polymorphic DNA patterns that distinguished them from other bacilli that are commonly isolated from plant tissues, e.g. Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, Bacillus licheniformis, Bacillus pumilus and Bacillus subtilis. PCR amplification of 16S-23S rRNA spacer regions suggested that the four strains could be assigned to two highly related taxa, which correlated with differences in cell morphology. However, the cloned spacer region provided a simple and specific hybridization probe for all four strains. The virtually complete 16S rDNA sequences were prepared for representatives of the two groups (strains 2DT(T) and 12DX) and differed by only two bases, thus supporting classification of the four strains in a single taxon at the species level. Phylogenetic analyses indicated that strain 2DT(T) belonged to the genus Bacillus and was most closely related to Bacillus sporothermodurans DSM 10599T with a sequence similarity of 94.8%. It is concluded that the four strains belong to a novel species of Bacillus for which the name Bacillus endophyticus sp. nov. is proposed. The type strain is 2DT(T) (= UCM B-5715T = CIP 106778T).


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