Electing a candidate: a speculative history of the bacterial phylum OP10


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In 1998, a cultivation-independent survey of the microbial community in Obsidian Pool, Yellowstone National Park, detected 12 new phyla within the Domain Bacteria. These were dubbed ‘candidate divisions’ OP1 to OP12. Since that time the OP10 candidate division has been commonly detected in various environments, usually as part of the rare biosphere, but occasionally as a predominant community component. Based on 16S rRNA gene phylogeny, OP10 comprises at least 12 class-level subdivisions. However, despite this broad ecological and evolutionary diversity, all OP10 bacteria have eluded cultivation until recently. In 2011, two reference species of OP10 were taxonomically validated, removing the phylum from its ‘candidate’ status. Construction of a highly resolved phylogeny based on 29 universally conserved genes verifies its standing as a unique bacterial phylum. In the following paper we summarize what is known and what is suspected about the newest described bacterial phylum, the Armatimonadetes.