A novel Gram-stain-negative, strictly aerobic, heterotrophic bacterium, designated 306(T), was isolated from near-surface (109 cm below the sea floor) sediments of the Gulf of Lions, in the Mediterranean Sea. Strain 306(T) grew at temperatures between 4 and 32 °C (optimum 17-22 °C), from pH 6.5 to 9.0 (optimum 8.0-9.0) and between 0.5 and 6.0% (w/v) NaCl (optimum 2.0%). Its DNA G+C content was 58.8 mol%. On the basis of 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity, the novel isolate belongs to the class Alphaproteobacteria and is related to the genus Phaeobacter. It shares 98.7% 16S rRNA sequence identity with Phaeobacter arcticus, its closest phylogenetic relative. It contained Q-10 as the only respiratory quinone, C(18:1)ω7c and C(16:0) as major fatty acids (>5%) and phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylglycerol, phosphatidylcholine, diphosphatidylglycerol, two unidentified lipids and an aminolipid as polar lipids. The chemotaxonomic data are consistent with the affiliation of strain 306(T) to the genus Phaeobacter. Results of physiological experiments, biochemical tests and DNA-DNA hybridizations (with P. arcticus) indicate that strain 306(T) is genetically and phenotypically distinct from the five species of the genus Phaeobacter with validly published names. Strain 306(T) therefore represents a novel species, for which the name Phaeobacter leonis sp. nov. is proposed. The type strain is 306(T) ( =DSM 25627(T) =CIP 110369(T) =UBOCC 3187(T)).