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On a non-discrete concept of prokaryotic species

AuthorsGonzález Grau, Juan Miguel ; Puerta Fernández, Elena; Santana, Margarida; Rekadwad, Bhagwan N.
KeywordsContinuous model
Discrete model
Microbial diversity
Issue Date1-Nov-2020
PublisherMultidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
CitationMicroorganisms 8(11): 1723 (2020)
AbstractThe taxonomic concept of species has received continuous attention. A microbial species as a discrete box contains a limited number of highly similar microorganisms assigned to that taxon, following a polyphasic approach. In the 21st Century, with the advancements of sequencing technologies and genomics, the existence of a huge prokaryotic diversity has become well known. At present, the prokaryotic species might no longer have to be understood as discrete values (such as 1 or 2, by homology to Natural numbers); rather, it is expected that some microorganisms could be potentially distributed (according to their genome features and phenotypes) in between others (such as decimal numbers between 1 and 2; real numbers). We propose a continuous species concept for microorganisms, which adapts to the current knowledge on the huge diversity, variability and heterogeneity existing among bacteria and archaea. Likely, this concept could be extended to eukaryotic microorganisms. The continuous species concept considers a species to be delimited by the distance between a range of variable features following a Gaussian-type distribution around a reference organism (i.e., its type strain). Some potential pros and cons of a continuous concept are commented on, offering novel perspectives on our understanding of the highly diversified prokaryotic world, thus promoting discussion and further investigation in the field. © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
Description10 páginas.- 3 figuras.- 48 referencias.- Supplementary Materials: The following are available online at http://www.mdpi.com/2076-2607/8/11/1723/s1 Table S1: List of the example species analyzed in this study with the number of genomes available at NCBI (Microbial Genomes database) and the type strains used as reference. Author Contributions.- (This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Species Concepts from Theory to Application: A Convergence Study)
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms8111723
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