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Chapter 6.1 : Introduction
The group of bacteria known as “aerobic actinomycetes“ is made up of Gram-positive bacilli delineated by a vast array of heterogeneous and taxonomically divergent genera. A common characteristic of this group is the production of filaments that often branch and have the ability to fragment. Most human pathogen-containing genera in this group are found within the suborder Corynebacterineae with the genus Dermatophilus alone being placed in the suborder Micrococcineae; Dermatophilus is probably not closely related to the other aerobic actinomycetes. There are over 40 genera of aerobic actinomycetes but, with a few notable exceptions, most are considered saprophytes or (at most) opportunistic pathogens. The genera and species that are exceptions to this generalization include the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, Mycobacterium leprae, and Dermatophilus, which are considered as true pathogens in humans. The Mycobacterium genus is dealt with elsewhere in this handbook.