If You're Not Confused, You're Not Paying Attention: Ochrobactrum Is Not Brucella

Edgardo Moreno, Earl A. Middlebrook, Pamela Altamirano-Silva, Sascha Al Dahouk, George F. Araj, Vilma Arce-Gorvel, Ángela Arenas-Gamboa, Javier Ariza, Elías Barquero-Calvo, Giorgio Battelli, Wilson J. Bertu, José María Blasco, Mile Bosilkovski, Simeon Cadmus, Clayton C. Caswell, Jean Celli, Carlos Chacón-Díaz, Esteban Chaves-Olarte, Diego J. Comerci, Raquel Conde-ÁlvarezElizabeth Cook, Silvio Cravero, Maryam Dadar, Xavier De Boelle, Fabrizio De Massis, Ramón Díaz, Gabriela I. Escobar, Luis Fernández-Lago, Thomas A. Ficht, Jeffrey T. Foster, Bruno Garin-Bastuji, Jacques Godfroid, Jean Pierre Gorvel, Leyla Güler, Sevil Erdenliǧ-Gürbilek, Amayel M. Gusi, Caterina Guzmán-Verri, Jiang Hai, Gabriela Hernández-Mora, Maite Iriarte, Nestor R. Jacob, Anne Keriel, Maamar Khames, Stephan Köhler, Jean Jacques Letesson, Maite Loperena-Barber, Ignacio López-Goñi, John McGiven, Falk Melzer, Ricardo Mora-Cartin, Jacob Moran-Gilad, Pilar M. Muñoz, Heinrich Neubauer, David O'Callaghan, Reuben Ocholi, Ángel Oñate, Piyush Pandey, Georgios Pappas, J. Tony Pembroke, Martin Roop, Nazaret Ruiz-Villalonos, Michael P. Ryan, Suzana P. Salcedo, Miriam Salvador-Bescós, Félix J. Sangari, Renato De Lima Santos, Aristarchos Seimenis, Gary Splitter, Marcela Suárez-Esquivel, Darem Tabbaa, Marcos David Trangoni, Renee M. Tsolis, Nieves Vizcaíno, Gamal Wareth, Susan C. Welburn, Adrian Whatmore, Amaia Zúñiga-Ripa, Ignacio Moriyón

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Bacteria of the genus Brucella are facultative intracellular parasites that cause brucellosis, a severe animal and human disease. Recently, a group of taxonomists merged the brucellae with the primarily free-living, phylogenetically related Ochrobactrum spp. in the genus Brucella. This change, founded only on global genomic analysis and the fortuitous isolation of some opportunistic Ochrobactrum spp. from medically compromised patients, has been automatically included in culture collections and databases. We argue that clinical and environmental microbiologists should not accept this nomenclature, and we advise against its use because (i) it was presented without in-depth phylogenetic analyses and did not consider alternative taxonomic solutions; (ii) it was launched without the input of experts in brucellosis or Ochrobactrum; (iii) it applies a non-consensus genus concept that disregards taxonomically relevant differences in structure, physiology, population structure, core-pangenome assemblies, genome structure, genomic traits, clinical features, treatment, prevention, diagnosis, genus description rules, and, above all, pathogenicity; and (iv) placing these two bacterial groups in the same genus creates risks for veterinarians, medical doctors, clinical laboratories, health authorities, and legislators who deal with brucellosis, a disease that is particularly relevant in low- and middle-income countries. Based on all this information, we urge microbiologists, bacterial collections, genomic databases, journals, and public health boards to keep the Brucella and Ochrobactrum genera separate to avoid further bewilderment and harm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • Brucella
  • Ochrobactrum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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