The members of the genus
are, with a few exceptions, a group of nitrogen-fixing symbiotic actinobacteria that nodulate mostly woody dicotyledonous plants belonging to three orders, eight families and 23 genera of pioneer dicots. These bacteria have been characterized phylogenetically and grouped into four molecular clusters. One of the clusters, cluster 1 contains strains that induce nodules on Alnus spp. (Betulaceae), Myrica spp., Morella spp. and Comptonia spp. (Myricaceae) that have global distributions. Some of these strains produce not only hyphae and vesicles, as other cluster 1 strains do, but also numerous sporangia in their host symbiotic tissues, hence their phenotype being described as spore-positive (Sp+). While Sp+ strains have resisted repeated attempts at cultivation, their genomes have recently been characterized and found to be different from those of all described species, being markedly smaller than their phylogenetic neighbours. We thus hereby propose to create a 'Candidatus Frankia alpina' species for some strains present in nodules of Alnus alnobetula and A. incana that grow in alpine environments at high altitudes or in subarctic environments at high latitudes.