bacteroides disiens



Bacteroides is a genus of Gram-negative, bacillis bacteria. Bacteroides species are non-endospore-forming, anaerobes, and may be either motile or non-motile, depending on the species. The DNA base composition is 40-48% GC. Unusual in bacterial organisms, Bacteroides membranes contain sphingolipids. They also contain meso-diaminopimelic acid in their peptidoglycan layer.

Bacteroides are normally mutualistic, making up the most substantial portion of the mammalian gastrointestinal flora, where they play a fundamental role in processing of complex molecules to simpler ones in the host intestine. As many as 1010-1011 cells per gram of human feces have been reported. They can use simple sugars when available, but the main source of energy is polysaccharides from plant sources.


Bacteroides species also benefit their host by excluding potential pathogens from colonizing the gut. Some species (B. fragilis, for example) are opportunistic human pathogens, causing infections of the peritoneal cavity, gastrointestinal surgery, and appendicitis via abscess formation, inhibiting phagocytosis, and inactivating beta-lactam antibiotics. Although Bacteroides species are anaerobic, they are aerotolerant and thus can survive in the abdominal cavity.

In general, Bacteroides are resistant to a wide variety of antibiotics — β-lactams, aminoglycosides, and recently many species have acquired resistance to erythromycin and tetracycline. This high level of antibiotic resistance has prompted concerns that Bacteroides species may become a reservoir for resistance in other, more highly-pathogenic bacterial strains.

B. fragilis

Bacteroides fragilis is an obligate anaerobe of the gut. It is involved in 90% of anaerobic peritoneal infections. In general, B. fragilis is susceptible to metronidazole, carbapenems, beta-lactam/beta-lactamase inhibitor combinations (e.g., Unasyn, Zosyn), and certain antimicrobials of the cephamycin class, including cefoxitin. The bacteria have inherent high-level resistance to penicillin. Clindamycin is no longer recommended as the first-line agent for B. fragilis due to emerging high-level resistance (>30% in some reports). Bacteriophages infecting B. fragilis are commonly used as tracers of human faecal material; see work undertaken by the University of Barcelona and EPHRU (Environment and Public Health Research Unit) at the University of Brighton.

Polysaccharide A (PSA) from this bacteria is reported to be involved in the protection of experimental colitis induced by Helicobacter hepaticus.


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