Sixty-five potato strains of the soft rot-causing plant pathogenic bacterium Dickeya spp., and two strains from hyacinth, were characterised using biochemical assays, REP-PCR genomic finger printing, 16S rDNA and dnaX sequence analysis. These methods were compared with nineteen strains representing six Dickeya species which included the type strains. A group of twenty-two potato strains isolated between 2005-2007 in the Netherlands, Poland, Finland and Israel were characterised as belonging to biovar 3. They were 100% identical in REP-PCR, dnaX and 16S rDNA sequence analysis. In a polyphasic analysis they formed a new clade different from the six Dickeya species previously described, and may therefore constitute a new species. The strains were very similar to a Dutch strain from hyacinth. On the basis of dnaX sequences and biochemical assays, all other potato strains isolated in Europe between 1979 and 1994 were identified as D. dianthicola (biovar 1 and 7), with the exception of two German strains classified as D. dieffenbachia (biovar 2) and D. dadantii (biovar 3), respectively. Potato strains from Peru were classified as D. dadantii, from Australia as D. zeae and from Taiwan as D. chrysanthemi bv. parthenii, indicating that different Dickeya species are found in association with potato.