Proposals to unify the genera Bartonella and Rochalimaea, with descriptions of Bartonella quintana comb. nov., Bartonella vinsonii comb. nov., Bartonella henselae comb. nov., and Bartonella elizabethae comb. nov., and to remove the family Bartonellaceae from the order Rickettsiales

Int J Syst Bacteriol. 1993 Oct;43(4):777-86. doi: 10.1099/00207713-43-4-777.


DNA hybridization data (hydroxyapatite method, 50 to 70 degrees C) indicate that Rickettsia prowazekii, the type species of the type genus of the family Rickettsiaceae, is substantially less closely related to Rochalimaea species than was previously thought. The levels of relatedness of Rickettsia prowazekii to Rochalimaea species and to Bartonella bacilliformis under optimal conditions for DNA reassociation were 0 to 14%, with 25.5% or greater divergence in related sequences. When stringent reassociation criteria were used, the levels of relatedness were 0 to 2%. The genera Bartonella and Rochalimaea are currently classified in different families (the Bartonellaceae and the Rickettsiaceae) in the order Rickettsiales. On the basis of DNA relatedness data, previous 16S rRNA sequence data, guanine-plus-cytosine contents, and phenotypic characteristics, neither Bartonella bacilliformis nor Rochalimaea species are closely related to other organisms currently classified in the order Rickettsiales. In fact, the closest relative of these organisms is Brucella abortus. It is therefore proposed that the family Bartonellaceae should be removed from the order Rickettsiales. Previous 16S rRNA sequence data and DNA hybridization data revealed high levels of relatedness between Bartonella bacilliformis and the four Rochalimaea species, indicating that these species are members of a single genus. It is proposed that the genus Rochalimaea should be united with the genus Bartonella in the family Bartonellaceae. The name Bartonella is retained as the genus name since it has nomenclatural priority over the name Rochalimaea. This means that new combinations for the Rochalimaea species must be created. Proposals are therefore made for the creation of Bartonella quintana comb. nov., Bartonella vinsonii comb. nov., Bartonella henselae comb. nov., and Bartonella elizabethae comb. nov.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Alphaproteobacteria / classification*
  • Alphaproteobacteria / genetics
  • Bartonella / classification*
  • Bartonella / genetics
  • Bartonellaceae / classification*
  • Bartonellaceae / genetics
  • Base Composition
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Rickettsiaceae / classification*
  • Rickettsiaceae / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S