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