Problems in measuring bacterial diversity and a possible solution

Appl Environ Microbiol. 1996 Nov;62(11):4299-301. doi: 10.1128/aem.62.11.4299-4301.1996.


The indices of species diversity used by plant and animal ecologists are not appropriate for bacterial diversity because of the inherent difficulty of defining a bacterial species. Arbitrary cutoff points to define a species or biotype lead to severe statistical problems. We suggest in this paper that a mean dissimilarity-based index without any attempt to define a species provides a statistically sound measurement of bacterial diversity.