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Mycobacterium smegmatis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Bacteria
Phylum: Actinobacteria
Order: Actinomycetales
Family: Mycobacteriaceae
Genus: Mycobacterium
Species: M. smegmatis
Binomial name
Mycobacterium smegmatis
(Trevisan 1889)
Lehmann & Neumann 1899

Mycobacterium smegmatis is 3.0 to 5.0 µm long with a bacillus shape, an acid-fast bacterial species in the genus Mycobacterium. It can be stained by Ziehl-Neelsen method and the auramine-rhodamine fluorescent method. It was first reported in November 1884 by Lustgarten who found a bacillus with the staining appearance of tubercle bacilli in syphilitic chancres. Subsequently, Alvarez and Tavel found organisms similar to that described by Lustgarten as well as in normal genital secretions (smegma). This organism was later named M. smegmatis.

M. smegmatis is generally considered a non-pathogenic microorganism; however, in some very rare cases it may cause disease, likely requiring an immunocompromised animal. Mycobacterium smegmatis is useful for the research analysis of other Mycobacteria species in laboratory experiments. M. smegmatis is commonly used in work on the mycobacterium species due to it being a "fast grower" and being non-pathogenic. M. smegmatis is a simple models that is easy to work with, i.e., with a fast doubling time and BSL-1 security level. The time and heavy infrastructure needed to work with pathogenic species that prompted researcher to use M. smegmatis as a model for mycobacterial species. This species shares more than 2000 homologs with M. tuberculosis has enabled the discovery of plasmids, phages, and mobile elements, which has been later used to construct dedicated gene-inactivation and gene reporter systems.M. smegmatis has a cell wall, which is similar to M. tuberculosis and other mycobacterial species. M. smegmatis mc2155, the work horse of mycobacteriaal genetics, is readily cultivable in most synthetic or complex laboratory medium. It forms visible colonies in 3-5 days depending on the medium. This mc2155 strain is hypertransformable. These properties make it very attractive model organisms for M. tuberculosis and other mycobacterium pathogens. M. smegmatis has been sequenced by TIGR, microarrays have been produced by PFGRC program(, demonstrating its relevance as a model system to study other species of mycobacterium.

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Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Main Page
Superregnum: Bacteria
Regnum: Bacteria
Phylum: Actinobacteria
Classis: Actinobacteria
Subclassis: Actinobacteridae
Ordo: Actinomycetales
Subordo: Corynebacterineae
Familia: Mycobacteriaceae
Genus: Mycobacterium
Species: Mycobacterium smegmatis
Strain: Mycobacterium smegmatis str. MC2 155 -


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