Most soil bacteria belong to family-level phylogenetic groups with few or no known cultivated representatives. We cultured a collection of 350 isolates from soil by using simple solid media in petri dishes. These isolates were assigned to 60 family-level groupings in nine bacterial phyla on the basis of a comparative analysis of their 16S rRNA genes. Ninety-three (27%) of the isolates belonged to 20 as-yet-unnamed family-level groupings, many from poorly studied bacterial classes and phyla. They included members of subdivisions 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the phylum Acidobacteria, subdivision 3 of the phylum Verrucomicrobia, subdivision 1 of the phylum Gemmatimonadetes, and subclasses Acidimicrobidae and Rubrobacteridae of the phylum ACTINOBACTERIA: In addition, members of 10 new family-level groupings of subclass Actinobacteridae of the phylum Actinobacteria and classes Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, and Gammaproteobacteria of the phylum Proteobacteria were obtained. The high degree of phylogenetic novelty and the number of isolates affiliated with so-called unculturable groups show that simple cultivation methods can still be developed further to obtain laboratory cultures of many phylogenetically novel soil bacteria.
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