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Int J Syst Evol Microbiol. 2010 Oct;60(Pt 10):2307-13. doi: 10.1099/ijs.0.016972-0. Epub 2009 Nov 13.

Revival and emended description of 'Mycobacterium paraffinicum' Davis, Chase and Raymond 1956 as Mycobacterium paraffinicum sp. nov., nom. rev.

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  • 1Mycobacteriology Branch, Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA.


The omission of the name 'Mycobacterium paraffinicum' from the Approved Lists of Bacterial Names was due to phenotypic confusion surrounding a close relationship with Mycobacterium scrofulaceum. Correspondingly, 'M. paraffinicum' strains grew slowly in > 7 days, stained acid-alcohol-fast and produced yellow-pigmented, smooth, waxy colonies in the dark at an optimal temperature of 35°C. However, 'M. paraffinicum' strains demonstrated no activity for urease, nicotinamidase or pyrazinamidase and lacked growth at 42°C, unlike M. scrofulaceum. The mycolic acid pattern, as determined by HPLC, clustered 'M. paraffinicum' with M. scrofulaceum, Mycobacterium avium and Mycobacterium parascrofulaceum. Strains were fully susceptible to linezolid, rifabutin, clarithromycin and amikacin. Examination of the historical reference strain of 'M. paraffinicum', ATCC 12670, and five additional isolates using comparative studies with 16S rRNA, hsp65 and rpoB gene and concatenated sequences showed that they formed a tight taxonomic group that was distinct from similar non-tuberculous mycobacteria. Multilocus enzyme electrophoresis (MEE) analysis confirmed a close association of the five additional isolates with the reference strain of 'M. paraffinicum' with a genetic distance of 0.12 and showed that all six strains were distinct from other closely related species. These genetic results provided unambiguous evidence of the uniqueness of this slowly growing, scotochromogenic species and supported the revival of the name as Mycobacterium paraffinicum (ex Davis, Chase and Raymond 1956) sp. nov., nom. rev. We propose the previously deposited reference strain ATCC 12670(T) =DSM 44181(T) =NCIMB 10420(T), located in collections worldwide, as the type strain.

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