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Treponema pallidum

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A gram-negative bacterium with flagella in the periplasmic space causing it to move like a corkscrew fashion involved as causative agents of syphilis in humans.


Treponema pallidum has a helical shape and microaerophilic containing a small genome with 1041 coding proteins that lacks various pathways such as tricarboxylic acid cycle and biosynthetic pathways needed for essential functions. It has an inner membrane of thin peptidoglycan cell wall in which size has a length ranging from 6-20 micrometer with a diameter of 18-20 micrometer. It also has an interesting structure of endoflagella located at the periplasmic space between its two membranes.

Treponema pallidum is a microaerophilic that requires very low concentration of oxygen wherein it does not code for several enzymes and incapable to synthesize fatty acids, enzyme cofactors, nucleotides and amino acids. It contains enzymes needed for glycolysis but deficient for the citric acid cycle and oxidative phosphorylation.

Treponema pallidum is implicated in syphilis, a sexually transmitted chronic human disease that able to penetrate the host via roughened mucous membrane and has the ability to cause disease like various hemolysins.

Scientific classification:

Domain: Bacteria

Phylum: Spirochaetes

Order: Spirochaetales

Family: Spirochaetaceae

Genus: Treponema

Species: Treponema pallidum

See also:

• Bacteria

• Syphilis