A phylogenomic and molecular markers based analysis of the phylum Chlamydiae: proposal to divide the class Chlamydiia into two orders, Chlamydiales and Parachlamydiales ord. nov., and emended description of the class Chlamydiia
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The phylum Chlamydiae contains nine ecologically and genetically diverse families all placed within a single order. In this work, we have completed a comprehensive comparative analysis of 36 sequenced Chlamydiae genomes in order to identify shared molecular characteristics, namely conserved signature insertions/deletions (CSIs) and conserved signature proteins (CSPs), which can serve as distinguishing characteristics of supra-familial clusters within the phylum Chlamydiae. Our analysis has led to the identification of 32 CSIs which are specific to clusters within the phylum Chlamydiae at various phylogenetic depths. Importantly, 17 CSIs and 98 CSPs were found to be specific for the family Chlamydiaceae while another 3 CSI variants and 15 CSPs were specific for a grouping of the families Criblamydiaceae, Parachlamydiaceae, Simkaniaceae and Waddliaceae. These two clusters were also found to be distinguishable in 16S rRNA based phylogenetic trees, concatenated protein based phylogenetic trees, character compatibility based phylogenetic analyses, and on the basis of 16S rRNA gene sequence identity and average amino acid identity values. On the basis of the identified molecular characteristics, branching in phylogenetic trees, and the genetic distance between the two clusters within the phylum Chlamydiae we propose a division of the class Chlamydiia into two orders: an emended order Chlamydiales, containing the family Chlamydiaceae and the closely related Candidatus family Clavichlamydiaceae, and the novel order Parachlamydiales ord. nov. containing the families Parachlamydiaceae, Simkaniaceae and Waddliaceae and the Candidatus families Criblamydiaceae, Parilichlamydiaceae, Piscichlamydiaceae, and Rhabdochlamydiaceae. We also include a brief discussion of the reunification of the genera Chlamydia and Chlamydophila.