Leptospira biflexa belongs to the bacteria family Leptospiraceae, genus Leptospira. The Leptopsira genus consists of 20 identified spirochaete bacteria species based on DNA hybridization studies, including several saprophytic and pathogenic species such as Leptospira alstoni, Leptospira interrogans, Leptospira kirschneri, etc. These species are all Gram-negative, helical shaped bacteria with a hook on one or both ends, which is a result of the two periplasmic flagella located at the pole of the cell. Leptopsira species are obligate aerobes and can achieve rapid dissemination of the organism into their hosts. Over 200 serotypes of Leptospira have been identified. Leptopsira species share many of the same characteristics with other spirochetes. But they also have important differences within species in genome and structural features such as DNA, flagellar motor, spherical bodies, periplasmic filaments, and cellular envelope.
Leptospira biflexa is a non-pathogenic Leptospira bacterium and a free-living saprophytic spirochet that can be found in aquatic environments. Similar with other Leptospira species, it is a spiral-shaped bacterium which a length of 6-20 μm and a diameter of 0.1 μm. It has a Gram-negative cell envelope contains an outer membrane and a cytoplasmic. The genome of Leptospira biflexa contains three circular replicons with a total size of about 3.9 million bp. About 3,590 protein-coding genes are identified. The two large replicons are known as chromosome I (CI) and chromosome II (CII), which shares a relatively high similarity to the two chromosomes that comprise the genomes of pathogenic Leptospira species such as L. borgpetersenii and L. interrogans. But the third circular replicon is not found in those pathogenic species.
Fig.2 Circular maps of the three L. biflexa replicons (Mathieu Picardeau, et al. PLoS ONE. 2008)
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