The phylum Verrucomicrobia is increasingly recognized as an environmentally significant group of bacteria, particularly in soil habitats. At least six subdivisions of the Verrucomicrobia are resolved by comparative analysis of 16S rRNA genes, mostly obtained directly from environmental samples. To date, only two of these subdivisions (1 and 4) have characterized pure-culture representatives. We have isolated and characterized the first known pure-culture representative of subdivision 2. Strain Ellin428 is an aerobic heterotrophic bacterium that is able to grow with many of the saccharide components of plant biomass but does not grow with amino acids or organic acids other than pyruvate. Cells are yellow, rod-shaped, nonmotile, and gram-stain negative, and they contain peptidoglycan with direct cross-linkages of the A1gamma meso-Dpm type. The isolate grows well at 25degreesC on a variety of standard biological media, including some used in the routine cultivation of bacteria from soil. The pH range for growth is 4.0 to 7.0. Low levels of menaquinones MK-10 and MK-11 were detected. The major cellular fatty acids are C-14:0, a-C-15:0. C-16:1omega7c and/or 2OH i-C-15:0, and C-16:0. The G+C content of the genomic DNA is 61 mol%. We propose a new genus and species, Chthoniobacter flavus gen. nov., sp. nov., with isolate Ellin428 as the type strain, and a new class for the subdivision to which it belongs, Spartobacteria classis nov. Environmental sequences indicate that the class Spartobacteria is largely represented by globally distributed, abundant, and active soil bacteria.