An update of the structure and 16S rRNA gene sequence-based definition of higher ranks of the class Actinobacteria, with the proposal of two new suborders and four new families and emended descriptions of the existing higher taxa

Int J Syst Evol Microbiol. 2009 Mar;59(Pt 3):589-608. doi: 10.1099/ijs.0.65780-0.


The higher ranks of the class Actinobacteria were proposed and described in 1997. At each rank, the taxa were delineated from each other solely on the basis of 16S rRNA gene sequence phylogenetic clustering and taxon-specific 16S rRNA signature nucleotides. In the past 10 years, many novel members have been assigned to this class while, at the same time, some members have been reclassified. The new 16S rRNA gene sequence information and the changes in phylogenetic positions of some taxa influence decisions about which 16S rRNA nucleotides to define as taxon-specific. As a consequence, the phylogenetic relationships of Actinobacteria at higher levels may need to be reconstructed. Here, we present new 16S rRNA signature nucleotide patterns of taxa above the family level and indicate the affiliation of genera to families. These sets replace the signatures published in 1997. In addition, Actinopolysporineae subord. nov. and Actinopolysporaceae fam. nov. are proposed to accommodate the genus Actinopolyspora, Kineosporiineae subord. nov. and Kineosporiaceae fam. nov. are proposed to accommodate the genera Kineococcus, Kineosporia and Quadrisphaera, Beutenbergiaceae fam. nov. is proposed to accommodate the genera Beutenbergia, Georgenia and Salana and Cryptosporangiaceae fam. nov. is proposed to accommodate the genus Cryptosporangium. The families Nocardiaceae and Gordoniaceae are proposed to be combined in an emended family Nocardiaceae. Emended descriptions are also proposed for most of the other higher taxa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actinobacteria / classification*
  • Actinobacteria / genetics
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • Base Sequence / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • DNA, Ribosomal / analysis
  • Genes, rRNA
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA*
  • Species Specificity


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S