A polyphasic taxonomic study was performed on the phytopathogenic bacterial strains DAPP-PG 224(T) and DAPP-PG 228, which cause brown spot on yellow Spanish melon (Cucumis melo var. inodorus) fruits. Based on the presence of glucuronosyl ceramide (SGL-1) in cellular lipids, the results of fatty acid analysis and 16S rDNA sequence comparison, the strains had been identified as belonging to the genus Sphingomonas and as phylogenetically related to Sphingomonas mali, Sphingomonas pruni and Sphingomonas asaccharolytica. The levels of 16S rDNA sequence similarity of these three species to strain DAPP-PG 224(T) were respectively 98.0, 98.0 and 97.4%. DNA-DNA hybridization experiments between strains pathogenic on melon fruit and S. mali, S. pruni and S. asaccharolytica revealed < or = 16% relatedness. Based on these results, the two isolates studied are regarded as independent from the type strains of the three species mentioned above. Sphingomonas strains from melon fruits are recognized as forming a genetically and phenotypically discrete species and to be differentiated by phenotypic characteristics from all 29 named species of the genus. Thus, the name Sphingomonas melonis sp. nov. is proposed for the isolates from diseased melon fruits. The type strain is DAPP-PG 224(T) (= LMG 19484(T) = DSM 14444(T)). The G+C content of DNA of the type strain is 65.0 mol%.


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