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Isolation of a spiral-shaped bacterium from the cat stomach.

  • A Lee
  • S L Hazell
  • J O'Rourke
  • S Kouprach
Publication Date
Nov 01, 1988
  • Ecology


A spiral- or helix-shaped bacterium that colonizes the stomachs of cats has been isolated in pure culture for the first time. The organism is tightly coiled with tufts of 10 to 17 polar flagella positioned slightly off center at the end of the cell. The body of the cell is entwined with unique periplasmic fibrils that usually occur in pairs, although groupings of one and three fibrils were also seen. The organism is strongly urease, catalase, and oxidase positive and is likely to belong to an as yet unclassified group of bacteria that are specifically adapted to the ecological niche provided by gastrointestinal mucus. Isolation of this organism will allow study of the factors influencing colonization of gastric mucosae, information relevant to the association of another mucus colonizer, Campylobacter pylori, with the human stomach. Recent reports of the isolation of other bacteria with the characteristic periplasmic surface structures suggests that the group may be more widespread than was hitherto thought. Bacteria with the morphology of the organisms seen in the cat stomach have been seen in gastric biopsies from humans. The organism whose isolation is reported here has been used in previous serological studies to support the hypothesis that spiral bacteria from animals can colonize the human stomach.

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