Due to worldwide distribution, high abundance and availability of physiologically diverse isolates the Roseobacter clade is one of the most intensively studied groups of marine bacteria. Organisms of this clade have been detected in a large variety of habitats, from coastal regions to deep-sea sediments and from polar ice to tropical latitudes, and constitute up to 25% of the total bacterial community. Use of a multitude of organic compounds, sulfur oxidation, aerobic anoxygenic photosynthesis, oxidation of carbon monoxide, DMSP demethylation, and production of secondary metabolites are some of the important traits found in this clade. Physiological characteristics and the different isolation sources indicate that organisms of the Roseobacter clade occupy various ecological niches. Since the first description of Roseobacter spp. in 1991, 38 affiliated and validated genera have been described. More than half of these descriptions have been published within the last 3 years. Genome sequencing of currently 40 different strains demonstrates enormous interest in the genetic and metabolic diversity of these bacteria. Plasmids with an enormous size range are also widespread in the Roseobacter clade indicating an adaptive genomic structure. Comparisons with other highly relevant groups, like the SAR11 clade, have shown drastic differences in genome organization.