Leptospira spp.

  • Douglas I. Johnson


  • Genomics (Huang et al. 2014; Ren et al. 2003; Zuerner 1991):
    • Leptospira interrogans serovar Lai str. 56,601 chromosome CI: 4,332,241 bp; 4,360 predicted ORFs

    • Leptospira interrogans chromosome CII: 358,943 bp; 367 predicted ORFs

  • Cell morphology:
    • Thin (0.1 μm), long (6–20 μm) spirochete:
      • Hooked ends – “question marks” (interrogans) (Fig. 21.1)

    • Two endoflagella (axial filaments):
      • Anchored at both ends of the cell and run lengthwise between the inner and outer membranes in the periplasmic space; enclosed in outer sheath

      • Causes twisting motion used for motility; important for dissemination in host

      • Endoflagella subunits (Lambert et al. 2012):
        • FlaA1, FlaA2: outer sheath

        • FlaB1, FlaB2, FlaB3, FlaB4: core polymer

  • Gram stain:
    • Gram negative

  • Growth:
    • Anaerobic or microaerophilic growth.

    • Slow grower (30–50 h doubling time); metabolically crippled:
      • No Krebs cycle or electron transport chain; gets ATP from glycolysis

      • No genes for synthesis of nucleotides, fatty acids, vitamins, cofactors, or amino acids; gets most of its nutrients through transport, not biosynthesis

    • Reservoir: almost all-known mammals; humans are not reservoirs.

    • At least 19 species: 13 are pathogenic and 6 are saprophytic; > 250 serovars:
      • Leptospirosis: L. interrogans (predominant), L. borgpetersenii, L. santarosai, L. noguchii, L. weilli, L. kirschneri, L. alexanderi


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas I. Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology & Molecular GeneticsUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA

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