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Journal of Microbiological Methods
Vol. 103, No. xx, 2014; Pages: 80100

Understanding molecular identification and polyphasic taxonomic approaches for genetic relatedness and phylogenetic relationships of microorganisms

Surajit Das, Hirak R. Dash, Neelam Mangwani, Jaya Chakraborty, Supriya Kumari

Laboratory of Environmental Microbiology and Ecology (LEnME), Department of Life Science, National Institute of Technology, Rourkela 769 008, Odisha, India.


The major proportion of earth's biological diversity is inhabited by microorganisms and they play a useful role in diversified environments. However, taxonomy of microorganisms is progressing at a snail's pace, thus less than 1% of the microbial population has been identified so far. The major problem associated with this is due to a lack of uniform, reliable, advanced, and common to all practices for microbial identification and systematic studies. However, recent advances have developed many useful techniques taking into account the house-keeping genes as well as targeting other gene catalogues (16S rRNArpoArpoBgyrAgyrB etc. in case of bacteria and 26S, 28S, β-tubulin gene in case of fungi). Some uncultivable approaches using much advanced techniques like flow cytometry and gel based techniques have also been used to decipher microbial diversity. However, all these techniques have their corresponding pros and cons. In this regard, a polyphasic taxonomic approach is advantageous because it exploits simultaneously both conventional as well as molecular identification techniques. In this review, certain aspects of the merits and limitations of different methods for molecular identification and systematics of microorganisms have been discussed. The major advantages of the polyphasic approach have also been described taking into account certain groups of bacteria as case studies to arrive at a consensus approach to microbial identification.

Keywords: Bacteria; Fungi; Molecular identification; Gene sequencing; Polyphasic taxonomy.


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