The genus Lactobacillus comprises 261 species (at March 2020) that are extremely diverse at phenotypic, ecological and genotypic levels. This study evaluated the taxonomy of Lactobacillaceae and Leuconostocaceae on the basis of whole genome sequences. Parameters that were evaluated included core genome phylogeny, (conserved) pairwise average amino acid identity, clade-specific signature genes, physiological criteria and the ecology of the organisms. Based on this polyphasic approach, we propose reclassification of the genus Lactobacillus into 25 genera including the emended genus Lactobacillus, which includes host-adapted organisms that have been referred to as the Lactobacillus delbrueckii group, Paralactobacillus and 23 novel genera for which the names Holzapfelia, Amylolactobacillus, Bombilactobacillus, Companilactobacillus, Lapidilactobacillus, Agrilactobacillus, Schleiferilactobacillus, Loigolactobacilus, Lacticaseibacillus, Latilactobacillus, Dellaglioa, Liquorilactobacillus, Ligilactobacillus, Lactiplantibacillus, Furfurilactobacillus, Paucilactobacillus, Limosilactobacillus, Fructilactobacillus, Acetilactobacillus, Apilactobacillus, Levilactobacillus, Secundilactobacillus and Lentilactobacillus are proposed. We also propose to emend the description of the family Lactobacillaceae to include all genera that were previously included in families Lactobacillaceae and Leuconostocaceae. The generic term 'lactobacilli' will remain useful to designate all organisms that were classified as Lactobacillaceae until 2020. This reclassification reflects the phylogenetic position of the micro-organisms, and groups lactobacilli into robust clades with shared ecological and metabolic properties, as exemplified for the emended genus Lactobacillus encompassing species adapted to vertebrates (such as Lactobacillus delbrueckii, Lactobacillus iners, Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus jensensii, Lactobacillus johnsonii and Lactobacillus acidophilus) or invertebrates (such as Lactobacillus apis and Lactobacillus bombicola).
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