Members of the Mycobacterium abscessus complex are rapidly growing mycobacteria that are emerging as human pathogens. The M. abscessus complex was previously composed of three species, namely M. abscessus sensu stricto, 'M. massiliense', and 'M. bolletii'. In 2011, 'M. massiliense' and 'M. bolletii' were united and reclassified as a single subspecies within M. abscessus: M. abscessus subsp. bolletii. However, the placement of 'M. massiliense' within the boundary of M. abscessus subsp. bolletii remains highly controversial with regard to clinical aspects. In this study, we revisited the taxonomic status of members of the M. abscessus complex based on comparative analysis of the whole-genome sequences of 53 strains. The genome sequence of the previous type strain of 'Mycobacterium massiliense' (CIP 108297) was determined using next-generation sequencing. The genome tree based on average nucleotide identity (ANI) values supported the differentiation of 'M. bolletii' and 'M. massiliense' at the subspecies level. The genome tree also clearly illustrated that ' M. bolletii ' and 'M. massiliense ' form a distinct phylogenetic clade within the radiation of the M. abscessus complex. The genomic distances observed in this study suggest that the current M. abscessus subsp. bolletii taxon should be divided into two subspecies, M. abscessus subsp. massiliense subsp. nov. and M. abscessus subsp. bolletii, to correspondingly accommodate the previously known 'M. massiliense' and 'M. bolletii' strains.
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