Chapter 17 : Aerobic Actinomycetes of Clinical Significance

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The group of Gram-positive bacillary organisms broadly known as “aerobic actinomycetes” consists of heterogeneous and taxonomically divergent genera belonging to the phylum , in the class , subclass . The majority of human pathogens in this group are placed in the suborder , with some in the suborders , , and ( ). Many of the clinically significant genera are characterized by the presence of at least rudimentary and sometimes longer branching filaments with the ability to produce spores or to fragment the filaments ( ). Except for the complex, , and the genus (the only clinically significant genus in the suborder , family ), most genera in this group are considered saprophytes and few are associated with human pathogenesis ( ). An extensive number of aerobic actinomycete genera have been described, but only a minority of these have been associated with human or veterinary health.

Citation: Mochon A, Sussland D, Saubolle M. 2016. Aerobic Actinomycetes of Clinical Significance, p 391-410. In Hayden R, Wolk D, Carroll K, Tang Y (ed),

Diagnostic Microbiology of the Immunocompromised Host, Second Edition

. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.DMIH2-0021-2015
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Figure 1

Direct Gram stain of lower respiratory tract secretions showing polymorphonuclear infiltrates with associated filamentous, branching, beaded Gram-positive bacteria of the genus (1000× magnification).

Citation: Mochon A, Sussland D, Saubolle M. 2016. Aerobic Actinomycetes of Clinical Significance, p 391-410. In Hayden R, Wolk D, Carroll K, Tang Y (ed),

Diagnostic Microbiology of the Immunocompromised Host, Second Edition

. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.DMIH2-0021-2015
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Image of Figure 2
Figure 2

Direct modified acid-fast stain (MAFS) of lower respiratory tract secretions showing filamentous, branching, beaded Gram-positive bacteria of the genus (1000× magnification).

Citation: Mochon A, Sussland D, Saubolle M. 2016. Aerobic Actinomycetes of Clinical Significance, p 391-410. In Hayden R, Wolk D, Carroll K, Tang Y (ed),

Diagnostic Microbiology of the Immunocompromised Host, Second Edition

. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.DMIH2-0021-2015
Permissions and Reprints Request Permissions
Download as Powerpoint
Image of Figure 3
Figure 3

Algorithm for identification of common aerobic actinomycetes recovered from clinical specimens. Prepare and evaluate modified Kinyoun stain and Gram stain, looking for the following features: branching, character of branching (right or acute angle, simple or multiple branching); filamentous (long, short); and acid-fastness (negative, partial, or complete). Evaluate and record growth of colonies on the media: presence or absence of aerial mycelium (use low-power magnification); describe the colony morphology (color: white, beige, orange, etc.; character: dry, smooth, etc.). * and are weakly acid-fast (Kinyoun) positive.

Citation: Mochon A, Sussland D, Saubolle M. 2016. Aerobic Actinomycetes of Clinical Significance, p 391-410. In Hayden R, Wolk D, Carroll K, Tang Y (ed),

Diagnostic Microbiology of the Immunocompromised Host, Second Edition

. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.DMIH2-0021-2015
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Generic image for table
Table 1

Antimicrobial susceptibility profiles for the genus

Citation: Mochon A, Sussland D, Saubolle M. 2016. Aerobic Actinomycetes of Clinical Significance, p 391-410. In Hayden R, Wolk D, Carroll K, Tang Y (ed),

Diagnostic Microbiology of the Immunocompromised Host, Second Edition

. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.DMIH2-0021-2015
Generic image for table
Table 2

Species of more commonly associated with human infection

Citation: Mochon A, Sussland D, Saubolle M. 2016. Aerobic Actinomycetes of Clinical Significance, p 391-410. In Hayden R, Wolk D, Carroll K, Tang Y (ed),

Diagnostic Microbiology of the Immunocompromised Host, Second Edition

. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.DMIH2-0021-2015

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