Spirillum bacteria possess a rigid helical cell structure and are microaerophilic. They thrive in stagnant water and also occur in undercooked meat.
Did You Know?
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch scientist, known as the Father of Microbiology, is believed to be the first person to identify Spirillum species of bacteria in the 1670s.
Spirillum refers to a genus of Gram-negative bacteria in the family Spirillaceae. These bacteria are known for their elongated structure. In fact, Spirillum volutans (S. volutans), members of Spirillum are considered to be one of the largest species of bacteria. Read the following BiologyWise article for some interesting facts about Spirillum.
● Bacteria belonging to the genus Spirillum have elongated forms with the body showing a spiral design. In simple words, the body cell shows a rigid helical structure.
● As compared to other types of bacteria, these spirally twisted elongate bacteria are large. They have bipolar tufts of flagella.
● The wavelength of these flagella is usually more than 3 micrometers.
● As the bacterium has bipolar tufts of flagella, it can easily move at high speeds in a rotational manner.
● These spiral-shaped bacteria have a diameter between 1.4 and 1.7 micrometers and their length can go to a maximum of 60 micrometers.
● The body cell of the bacterium shows helical twists that may vary from less than 1 to a maximum of 5.
● Stagnant water containing a good amount of organic matter acts as the perfect breeding ground for these bacteria.
● Although they are also found in raw or under-cooked poultry meat, they tend to proliferate easily in places of poor sanitation.
● Stagnant water pools favor the growth of these bacteria.
It is not surprising that they are commonly found in organisms living in stagnant water.
● They are microaerophilic, meaning the amount of oxygen needed for their survival and proliferation is significantly less.
● Oxygen concentration of 1 to 9% is enough for their growth. In other words, they can easily thrive in very low environmental oxygen levels.
Nutrient Storage Method
● As we all know, bacteria use storage granules that act as storage areas for nutrients. Most types of bacteria have sulfur and poly-phosphate granules.
● However, in case of Spirillum bacteria, the granules are made up of poly-beta-hydroxybutyrate (PHB).
Are they Nitrifying Bacteria?
● Spirilla are not nitrifying bacteria, meaning they do not consume inorganic nitrogen compounds, nor do they reduce nitrates to nitrites or oxidize ammonia to nitrite, for survival.
● To put it simply, they do not use nitrites and do require oxygen for their growth.
Spirillum minus (S. minus)
● The infection of bacterium Spirillum minus is usually passed to humans from infected rodents.
● For instance, an individual bitten by an infected rat is likely to suffer from S. minus infection, commonly referred to as rat-bite fever.
● The condition is typically marked by fever, chills, skin rash, and swelling of nearby lymph nodes.
● The site of the bite shows open sores, appears inflamed and unusually red.
● When the infection occurs from exposure to unsanitary food or drinking water, it is referred to as Haverhill fever.
● Spirillum volutans (occur in fresh waters and are among the largest species of bacteria)
● Spirillum pulli (there are records of these bacteria causing diphtheritic stomatitis in chickens)
● Spirillum winogradskyi (was isolated from the sludge of a municipal waste water treatment)
● Spirillum pleomorphum
As far as treating infections from Spirilla is concerned, taking antibiotics belonging to the penicillin family, is recommended. Amoxicillin, clarithromycin, and levofloxacin are some of the antibiotics prescribed.