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Keywords:

  • Rickettsiella grylli;
  • Legionellales;
  • Coxiellaceae;
  • panorthologous genes;
  • Shimodaira–Hasegawa test;
  • Kishino–Hasegawa test

Abstract

Rickettsiella grylli is an intracellular bacterial pathogen of aquatic and terrestrial arthropods. Previous determination of its 16S rRNA-encoding sequence has led to the taxonomic classification of the genus Rickettsiella in the class Gammaproteobacteria, order Legionellales, family Coxiellaceae, i.e. in close vicinity to vertebrate pathogenic bacteria of the genera Coxiella and Legionella. Here we use the additional information available from the recently published first whole genome sequence from this genus to evaluate critically the taxonomic classification of R. grylli beyond the 16S rRNA gene level. Using phylogenetic reconstruction, together with significance testing on a data basis defined by a core set of 211 previously identified families of protein-encoding genes, together with a reanalysis of 16S rRNA gene data, the present study firmly corroborates the assignment of this species to both the class Gammaproteobacteria and the order Legionellales. However, the results obtained from concatenated and single protein, single protein-encoding gene, and 16S rRNA gene data demonstrate a similar phylogenetic distance of R. grylli to both the Coxiellaceae and the Legionellaceae and are, therefore, inconsistent with its current family-level classification. Consequently, a respective reorganization of the order Legionellales is proposed.