Numerous ecological studies on myxobacteria have been conducted, but their true diversity remains largely unknown. To bridge this gap, we implemented a comprehensive survey of diversity and distribution of myxobacteria by using 4997 publicly available 16S rRNA gene sequences (≥1200 bp) collected from several hundred sites across multiple countries and regions. In this study, the meta-16S rRNA gene phylogenetic reconstruction clearly revealed that these sequences could be classified into 998 species, 445 genera, 58 families, and 20 suborders, the great majority of which belonged to new taxa. Most cultured myxobacteria were strongly inclined to locate on the shallow branches of the phylogenetic tree; on the contrary, the majority of uncultured myxobacteria located on the deep branches. The geographical analysis of sequences based on their environmental categories clearly demonstrated that myxobacteria show a nearly cosmopolitan distribution, despite the presence of some habitat-specific taxa, especially at the genus and species levels. Among the abundant suborders, Suborder_4, Suborder_15, and Suborder_17 were more widely distributed in marine environments, while the remaining suborders preferred to reside in terrestrial ecosystems. In conclusion, this study profiles a clear framework of diversity and distribution of cosmopolitan myxobacteria and sheds light on the isolation of uncultured myxobacteria.
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