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Clinical Microbiology Newsletter
Vol 42, 2020,Pages 111-120

Moving Targets of Bacterial Taxonomy Revision: What Are They and Why Should We Care?


College of Health Sciences, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Wisconsin Clinical Laboratory Network Laboratory Technical Advisory Group, Madison, Wisconsin.


Due to the increased widespread use of molecular diagnostics, genome sequencing, and microbiome analysis in microbiology, the field has experienced a massive influx of novel taxa and nomenclature revisions. A subset of these changes is relevant to the clinical microbiology laboratory, particularly in the context of appropriate antimicrobial susceptibility testing and epidemiology of emerging infections. However, assimilation of these changes into daily clinical microbiology laboratory operations can be challenging for a variety of reasons. Recent taxonomic revisions to Enterobacteriaceae, as well as the genera Borrelia, Mycoplasma, and Mycobacterium, are reviewed as examples that illustrate discrepancies between resources of revision data, criticisms of potentially preliminary data, opinions of unnecessary taxonomic revision, and overwhelming data sets for which clinical relevance is difficult to ascertain. Suggestions for implementation of taxonomic revisions are introduced (including references to peer-reviewed biennial taxonomy revision compendia), which could be augmented by a future Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute guideline.

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