The Family Entomoplasmataceae

  • Gail E. Gasparich
Reference work entry


The Entomoplasmataceae is a family within the class Mollicutes and the order Entomoplasmatales with two genera, Entomoplasma and Mesoplasma. Originally, many of the strains now within the Entomoplasmataceae were designated as belonging to the genus Mycoplasma or the genus Acholeplasma based on morphological, biological, and metabolic characteristics. In 1993, Tully and colleagues proposed a major revision to the taxonomic classification in which the Order Entomoplasmatales was divided into two families based on cell shape: Entomoplasmatacea for nonhelical bacteria and the Spiroplasmataceae for helical bacteria. The Entomoplasmatacea family was then divided into two genera based on sterol requirement: Entomoplasma for those that required sterol and Mesoplasma for those that did not require sterol, but were able to grow in serum-free medium supplemented with polyoxyethylene sorbitan (PES – normally 0.04 % Tween 80) (Tully et al. Int J Syst Bacteriol 43:378–385, 1993). Subsequent phylogenetic analyses based on 16S rRNA gene sequence consistently showed that the Entomoplasmataceae is a sister clade to, and appears to be derived from, the Spiroplasmatacea lineage and that the genera are distinct phylogenetically. Phylogenetic analyses also clearly show that the two genera do not form distinct clades but are intermixed. For this reason, it is clear that the requirement for sterol is not a characteristic that can be used to distinguish the two genera and thus, it has been proposed that the two genera be combined under the Entomoplasma genus designation (Johansson K-E, Pettersson B (2002) Taxonomy of Mollicutes. In: Razin S, Herrman R (eds) Molecular biology and pathogenicity of mycoplasmas. Kluwer, London, pp 1–29; Gasparich et al. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 54:893–891, 2004). Currently, there are six Entomoplasma species and eleven Mesoplasma species formally described. They have been isolated from arthropod hosts or plant surfaces (most likely deposited by arthropod hosts) and have not been found to be pathogenic to either host. Species from both genera appear as nonhelical, nonmotile, pleomorphic coccoid cells of various sizes under dark-field microscopic examination, were able to be filtered through 220-nm filters, lacked a cell wall (and thus are resistant to penicillin), and all were chemo-organotropic with the ability to ferment glucose using a PEP-dependent carbohydrate phosphotransferase system. There was variable ability to hydrolyze arginine and none were able to hydrolyze urea. The genome size ranged from 613 to 1,030 kbp, the G+C content ranged from 26.4 to 34.1 mol%, and the growth temperature range was from 10 °C to 37 °C with the common optimal growth temperature being 30 °C. The Entomoplasmataceae family as a whole is understudied with little information available for most species beyond the original description.


Plant Surface Insect Host gyrB Gene Mycoplasma Hominis Arthropod Host 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fisher College of Science and MathematicsTowson UniversityTowsonUSA

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