A specific 16S rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probe (PIR1223) for the genus Pirellula and a species-specific probe (RB454) for Pirellula sp. strain SH1 have been designed and optimized. Together with the already existing order-specific probe PLA886, the two newly designed probes were used to detect and identify planctomycetes, pirellulae, and close relatives of Pirellula sp. strain SH1 in different habitats. With the help of these probes for detection and identification, bacteria of the genus Pirellula were detected and cultivated from tissue of the Mediterranean sponge Aplysinaaerophoba and from the water column of the Kiel Fjord. An unexpected result was the close phylogenetic relationship of the isolate from the sponge and the brackish water habitat Kiel Fjord as revealed by DNA/DNA hybridization.