The family Chlamydiaceae with the recombined single genus Chlamydia currently comprises nine species, all of which are obligate intracellular organisms distinguished by a unique biphasic developmental cycle. Anecdotal evidence from epidemiological surveys in flocks of poultry, pigeons and psittacine birds have indicated the presence of non-classified chlamydial strains, some of which may act as pathogens. In the present study, phylogenetic analysis of ribosomal RNA and ompA genes, as well as multi-locus sequence analysis of 11 field isolates were conducted. All independent analyses assigned the strains into two different clades of monophyletic origin corresponding to pigeon and psittacine strains or poultry isolates, respectively. Comparative genome analysis involving the type strains of currently accepted Chlamydiaceae species and the designated type strains representing the two new clades confirmed that the latter could be classified into two different species as their average nucleotide identity (ANI) values were always below 94%, both with the closest relative species and between themselves. In view of the evidence obtained from the analyses, we propose the addition of two new species to the current classification: Chlamydia avium sp. nov. comprising strains from pigeons and psittacine birds (type strain 10DC88(T); DSMZ: DSM27005(T), CSUR: P3508(T)) and Chlamydia gallinacea sp. nov. comprising strains from poultry (type strain 08-1274/3(T); DSMZ: DSM27451(T), CSUR: P3509(T)).
Keywords: 16S rRNA gene sequence; Chlamydia avium; Chlamydia gallinacea; Chlamydiaceae; Comparative genome analysis; Multi-locus sequence analysis.
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