Taxonomy of the Clostridia: ribosomal ribonucleic acid homologies among the species

J Gen Microbiol. 1975 Jun;88(2):229-44. doi: 10.1099/00221287-88-2-229.


rRNA homologies have been determined on reference strains representing 56 species of Clostridium. Competition experiments using tritium-labelled 23S rRNA were employed. The majority of the species had DNA with 27 to 28% guanine plus cytosine (%GC). These fell into rRNA homology groups I and II, which were well defined, and a third group which consisted of species which did not belong in groups I and II. Species whose DNA was 41 to 45% GC comprised a fourth group. Thirty species were placed into rRNA homology group I on the basis of having 50% or greater homology with Clostridium butyricum, C. perfringens, C. carnis, C. sporogenes, C. novyi or C. pasteurianum. Ten subgroups were delineated in homology group I. Species in each subgroup either had high homology with a particular reference species or a similar pattern of homologies to all of the reference organisms. The eleven species in rRNA homology group II had 69% or greater homology to C. lituseburense. Species in groups I and II had intergroup homologies of 20 to 40%. The six species in group II had very low homologies with groups I and II. Negligible homology also resulted when five of the species were tested against the sixth, C. ramosum. The five species having DNA with 41 to 45% GC were C. innocuum, C. sphenoides, C. indolis, C. barkeri and C. orotic um. Little rRNA homology was apparent between C. innocuum and the other high % GC species or with several Bacillus species having similar %GC DNA. Correlations between homology results and phenotypic characteristics are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Wall / drug effects
  • Clostridium / classification*
  • Clostridium / metabolism
  • Clostridium botulinum / classification
  • Clostridium botulinum / metabolism
  • Clostridium perfringens / classification
  • Clostridium perfringens / metabolism
  • Clostridium tetani / classification
  • Clostridium tetani / metabolism
  • Culture Media
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Deoxyribonucleases / metabolism
  • Muramidase / pharmacology
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Phenotype
  • RNA, Bacterial / analysis*
  • RNA, Ribosomal / analysis*
  • Species Specificity


  • Culture Media
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal
  • Deoxyribonucleases
  • Muramidase