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J Vet Diagn Invest. 2007 May;19(3):256-65.

Growth and metabolic characterization of Macrorhabdus ornithogaster.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Animal Health, Kannondai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


Macrorhabdus ornithogaster (M. ornithogaster) is an anamorphic ascomycetous yeast found only in the stomach of birds. Infection is often benign but has also been associated with disease in some species of birds under some circumstances. In vitro efforts to grow M. ornithogaster have been largely unsuccessful. In this report, multiple liquid and solid media of varying pH, sugar concentration, and fetal bovine serum (FBS) concentrations, incubated at various temperatures in room air or microaerophilic conditions, were examined for their ability to support the growth of M. ornithogaster, obtained from a budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus). Optimum growth conditions were found to be Basal Medium Eagle's, pH 3 to 4, containing 20% FBS, and 5% glucose or sucrose under microaerophilic conditions at 42 degrees C. Using these conditions, M. ornithogaster was repeatedly passaged without loss of viability. Polyclonal isolates of M. ornithogaster consistently assimilated glucose, sucrose, and trehalose. M. ornithogaster did not grow with prolonged exposure to atmospheric oxygen, but growth in microaerophilic conditions was moderately enhanced by preincubation with atmospheric oxygen for 24 hours. An isolate of M. ornithogaster was found to be infective to day-old chickens, reduce their rate of weight gain, and induce a mild to moderate heterophilic inflammation of the isthmus. M. ornithogaster was reisolated from the chicks 7 days after infection, fulfilling Koch's postulates. A 761-bp sequence of 18S rDNA from this isolate was compared to the originally reported M. ornithogaster sequence and was found to be 97% identical.

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