For decades, bacterial taxonomy has been based on in vitro molecular biology techniques and comparison of molecular marker sequences to measure the degree of genetic similarity and deduce phylogenetic relatedness of novel bacterial species to reference microbial taxa. Due to the advent of the genomic era, access to complete bacterial genome contents has become easier, thereby presenting the opportunity to precisely investigate the overall genetic diversity of microorganisms. Here, we describe a high-accuracy phylogenomic approach to assess the taxonomy of members of the genus Bifidobacterium and identify apparent misclassifications in current bifidobacterial taxonomy. The developed method was validated by the classification of seven novel taxa belonging to the genus Bifidobacterium by employing their overall genetic content. The results of this study demonstrate the potential of this whole-genome approach to become the gold standard for phylogenomics-based taxonomic classification of bacteria.
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