Phylogenomics and molecular signatures support division of the order Neisseriales into emended families Neisseriaceae and Chromobacteriaceae and three new families Aquaspirillaceae fam. nov., Chitinibacteraceae fam. nov., and Leeiaceae fam. nov.
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The order Neisseriales contains 37 genera harboring 122 species with validly published names, which are placed into two families, Neisseriaceae and Chromobacteriaceae. Genome sequences are now available for 35 of the 37 Neisseriales genera for reliably determining their evolutionary relationships and taxonomy. We report here comprehensive phylogenomic and comparative analyses on protein sequences from 110 Neisseriales genomes plus 3 Chitinimonas genomes using multiple approaches. In a phylogenomic tree based on 596 core proteins, Neisseriales species formed 5 strongly supported clades. In addition to the clades for Neisseriaceae and Chromobacteriaceae families, three novel species clades designated as the "Chitinibacteraceae", "Aquaspirillaceae", and "Leeiaceae" were observed. The genus Chitinimonas grouped reliably with members of the "Chitinibacteraceae" clade. The major clades within the order Neisseriales can also be distinguished based on average amino acid identity analysis. In parallel, our comparative genomic studies have identified 30 conserved signature indels (CSIs) that are specific for members of the order Neisseriales or its five main clades. One of these CSIs is uniquely shared by all Neisseriales, whereas 8, 4, 9, 3 and 5 CSIs are distinctive characteristics of the Neisseriaceae, Chromobacteriaceae, "Chitinibacteraceae", "Aquaspirillaceae" and "Leeiaceae" clades, respectively. Based on the strong phylogenetic and molecular evidence presented here, we are proposing that the three newly identified clades should be recognized as novel families (Chitinibacteraceae fam. nov., Aquaspirillaceae fam. nov. and Leeiaceae fam. nov.) within the order Neisseriales. In addition, we are also emending descriptions of the families Neisseriaceae and Chromobacteriaceae regarding their constituent genera and other distinguishing characteristics.
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