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Rickettsia prowazekii

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A gram-negative aerobic and obligate intracellular parasitic bacterium that lacks flagellum involved in typhus fever in human.


Rickettsia prowazekii has a size at about 0.3-0.5 by 0.8-2.0 micrometer that thrives within the nucleus or in the cytoplasm that tends to divide through binary fission and consumed host-derived glutamate and citric acid. It has a singular circular chromosome with 834 protein coding genes and has the smallest genome which is the first to be alpha-proteobacterial that has been sequenced and linked to the origin of the mitochondria.

Rickettsia prowazekii has a rod-like structure that unable to generate pyruvate from any glycolytic pathway though it needs enzymes for pyruvate metabolisms and lacks sequence for nitrogen metabolisms that permits synthesis of glutamine signifying that it must be obtained from host cells. It also get energy from oxidative phosphorylation and ATP translocases which tolerate the cell to take up ATP produced by the host as a capturing method of this bacterium.

Rickettsia prowazekii is implicated in the epidemic disease of human typhus transmitted from the feces of lice indicating symptoms including nausea, early onset fever, headaches and muscle pain as well as after few days of infection it develops pink rashes on extremities, stomach and buttocks.

Scientific classification:

Kingdom: Bacteria

Phylum: Proteobacteria

Class: Alphaproteobacteria

Order: Rickettsiales

Family: Rickettsiaceae

Genus: Rickettsia

Species: Rickettsia prowazekii

See also:

• Bacteria

• Typhus fever