Back to Bacteria Index
Bacillus anthracis is a rod-shaped Gram-positive bacterium of size
about 1 by 6 micrometres, and is the cause of the disease known as
B. anthracis was the first bacterium ever to be shown to
cause disease, by Robert Koch in 1877. The specific name anthracis
originates from the Greek word meaning coal,
referring to the black skin lesions on the victims. The bacteria
normally rest in spore form in the soil, and can survive for decades
in this state. Once taken in by a herbivore, the bacteria start
multiplying inside the animal and eventually kill it, then continue to
reproduce in the carcass. Once they run out of nutrients there, they
revert back to the dormant spore state.
They are aerobes, and can be grown on nutrient agar at 37 degrees.
There is one antigenic type that possesses 3 major antigens:
- Cell wall polysaccharide
- Capsular polypeptide
- Complex of protein toxins
The toxin is composed of 3 components: protective antigen (PA),
lethal factor (LF), edema factor (EF). Together they are cytolytic for
macrophages and increase vascular permeability causing edema and
Diseases caused by
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