An intracellular bacterium, strain L13, was observed infecting an environmental isolate of an Acanthamoeba species. The bacterium could not be recovered on axenic medium but was recovered and cultivated in vitro using cultures of Acanthamoeba polyphaga. The 16S rRNA gene sequence of L13 was found to be new, sharing less than 84% similarity with other sequences in the GenBank/EMBL database. L13 was found to be a member of the alpha-Proteobacteria, sharing an evolutionary line of descent with a group of uniquely obligate intracellular organisms comprised of Caedibacter and Holospora species and the NHP bacterium. Viable bacteria appeared to be highly motile within amoebae. Ultrastructural analysis of the bacterium demonstrated that it is rod-shaped and possesses a typical Gram-negative cell wall, but has no other outstanding features except small vesicle-like structures often associated with the outer surface of each bacterium. The host range of L13 was found to be limited to the genus Acanthamoeba. In A. polyphaga, L13 infection was slow to manifest when cultures were incubated below 30 degrees C, but at higher temperatures bacteria multiplied prolifically and induced host cell lysis. The protein profile of the bacterium purified from the amoebae was assessed by SDS-PAGE and its G+C content was estimated to be 41 mol%. Although these results support the proposal of L13 as a new species, its obligate intracellular nature prevented isolation of a definitive type strain. L13 is therefore proposed as 'Candidatus Odyssella thessalonicensis' gen. nov., sp. nov.


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