Spirochaetes species - Overview

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Phylum Spirochaetes
Class Spirochaetes
Order Spirochaetales

Also known as: Spirochetes


Spirochaetes in blood smear of human subject. (Bobjgalindo 2009, Wikimedia commons)

There are two families, Leptospiraceae and Spirochaetaceae. Leptospiraceae include the pathogens of the genus, Leptospira, whereas Spirochaetaceae include the pathogens of the genera Borrelia and Brachyspira. Spirochaetes may cause zoonotic infections.


Spirochaetes are spiral or helical Gram-negative bacteria. They are motile organisms as they have endoflagella. The position of their flagella is used to distinguish this bacteria, they run length ways and cause a twisting motion. They have lengths between 5 and 250 µm. They are sensitive to dessication and survive poorly in the environment.


They stain poorly with Gram stain as most require specialised media for growth. Serology is required for their identification.

See here for a list of Spirochaetes species

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