Six Gram-positive-staining, microaerophilic, non-spore-forming, fructose-6-phosphate phosphoketolase-positive bacterial strains with a peculiar morphology were isolated from faecal samples of baby common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus). Cells of these strains showed a morphology not reported previously for a bifidobacterial species, which resembled a coiled snake, always coiled or ring shaped or forming a 'Y' shape. Strains MRM 3/1(T) and MRM 4/2 were chosen as representative strains and characterized further. The bacteria utilized a wide range of carbohydrates and produced urease. Glucose was fermented to acetate and lactate. Strain MRM 3/1(T) showed a peptidoglycan type unique among members of the genus Bifidobacterium. The DNA base composition was 64.7 mol% G+C. Almost-complete 16S rRNA, hsp60, clpC and rpoB gene sequences were obtained and phylogenetic relationships were determined. Comparative analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences showed that strains MRM 3/1(T) and MRM 4/2 had the highest similarities to Bifidobacterium scardovii DSM 13734(T) (94.6%) and Bifidobacterium stellenboschense DSM 23968(T) (94.5%). Analysis of hsp60 showed that both strains were closely related to B. stellenboschense DSM 23968(T) (97.5% similarity); however, despite this high degree of similarity, our isolates could be distinguished from B. stellenboschense DSM 23968(T) by low levels of DNA-DNA relatedness (30.4% with MRM 3/1(T)). Strains MRM 3/1(T) and MRM 4/2 were located in an actinobacterial cluster and were more closely related to the genus Bifidobacterium than to other genera in the family Bifidobacteriaceae. On the basis of these results, strains MRM 3/1(T) and MRM 4/2 represent a novel species within the genus Bifidobacterium, for which the name Bifidobacterium aesculapii sp. nov. is proposed; the type strain is MRM 3/1(T) ( = DSM 26737(T) = JCM 18761(T)).
© 2014 IUMS.