Organisms isolated from commercial foetal bovine serum and from cell culture lines containing such serum supplements were found to consist of non-helical, non-motile, pleomorphic coccoid forms. One strain (FC 097-2T) cultivated directly from foetal bovine serum was selected for characterization. In ultrastructural examination, individual round cells lacked cell wall structures and cells varied in size, with a mean diameter of about 700 nm. However, variable numbers of cells were filterable through membranes of 300 nm. Optimum growth occurred between 30 and 37 degrees C. The organism fermented glucose, fructose and mannose, but did not hydrolyse arginine. The strain was insensitive to 500 U penicillin ml(-1) and was capable of growing in the absence of serum or cholesterol. The organism was serologically distinct from all 13 currently described species in the genus Acholeplasma and from other sterol-requiring species in the genus Mycoplasma, using growth inhibition, immunoperoxidase and immunofluorescence tests. Strain FC 097-2T was found to have a DNA G+C composition between 37.6 +/- 1 mol% and 38.3 +/- 1 mol%. The genome size was determined to be 2095 kbp. The 16S rDNA sequence of strain FC 097-2T was compared to 16S rDNA sequences of other mollicutes in nucleotide databases. No deposited sequence was found to be identical; the closest relatives were several members of the genus Acholeplasma. On the basis of these findings and other similarities to acholeplasmas in morphology and growth, the absence of a sterol requirement for growth, and similar genomic characteristics, the organism was assigned to the genus Acholeplasma. Strain FC 097-2T is designated the type strain (ATCC 700667T) of a new species, Acholeplasma vituli.


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