Classification of the Legionnaires' disease bacterium: Legionella pneumophila, genus novum, species nova, of the family Legionellaceae, familia nova

Ann Intern Med. 1979 Apr;90(4):656-8. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-90-4-656.


Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) relatedness was used to classify strains of the Legionnaires' disease (LD) bacterium. These DNA comparisons showed that all strains of the LD bacterium were members of the same species. Included were strains isolated from the environment and strains with three different O-antigens. The DNA from the LD bacterium was not significantly related to DNA from any other group of bacteria that was tested. Biochemical data, growth characteristics, and guanine-plus-cytosine ratios were used to rule out the possibility that the LD bacterium was significantly related to members of genera whose DNA was not tested. In view of these data we propose that the LD bacterium be named Legionella pneumophila species nova, the type species of Legionella, genus novum. The type strain of L. pneumophila is Philadelphia 1.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacteria / analysis
  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Cytosine / analysis
  • DNA, Bacterial* / analysis
  • Guanine / analysis
  • Humans
  • Legionnaires' Disease / microbiology*
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Terminology as Topic


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Guanine
  • Cytosine