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Int J Syst Bacteriol. 1996 Jul;46(3):745-52.

Treponema maltophilum sp. nov., a small oral spirochete isolated from human periodontal lesions.

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Institute for Oral Microbiology and General Immunology, University of Zürich, Switzerland.


A novel culture medium for cultivation of fastidious oral anaerobes is described. This medium, OMIZ-Pat, consists of a rich chemically defined basal medium supplemented with asialofetuin, as well as yeast extract and Neopeptone fractions. Addition of 1 mg of rifampin per liter and 100 mg of fosfomycin per liter allowed routine isolation of spirochetes by a limit dilution method in 96-well plates containing liquid OMIZ-Pat. In addition to members of the four previously recognized species of oral treponemes (Treponema denticola, Treponema pectinovorum, Treponema socranskii, and Treponema vincentii), 26 previously undescribed spirochete strains belonging to one group were isolated. We propose the name Treponema maltophilum sp. nov. for these small spirochetes, which have two endoflagella; one endoflagellum is attached at each cell pole, and the endoflagella overlap in the middle of the cell. Growth of these organisms was dependent on a carbohydrate like D-arabinose, L-fucose, D-maltose, L-rhamnose, D-ribose, D-sucrose, or D-trehalose and was inhibited by fetal bovine serum. T. Maltophilum is distinguished from other oral Treponema species by its 16S rRNA sequence, its protein and antigen patterns as determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and immunoblotting, and its characteristic alpha-glucosidase activity. The strains included in the new species on the basis of their 16S rRNA sequences are heterogeneous with respect to their alpha-fucosidase, and beta-glucuronidase activities, their dependence on N-acetylglucosamine, and their antigens as detected with patient antibodies. Strain BR is designated the type strain, and strains HO2A and PNA1 are reference strains of the new species.

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