MycobacteriumDid we forget anything? Let us know

Genus nameMycobacterium
Alternative names
NCBI taxonomy ID1763

Taxonomy (MiDAS 2.0)


16S gene copy number1-2

 In situOther
Hydrophobic cell surface1

Scanning electron micrograph of Mycobacterium tuberculosis - Source:3

Aerobic heterotroph
Short-chain fatty acids

POSNEGVariableNot assessed


Mycobacteria are aerobic actinomycetes 4 that are widespread in the environment 5. They possess the mycolata morphotype and usually form slightly curved or straight rods 4, which can appear in chains or as individual cells 5. Mycobacterium are often involved in foaming events 6. While they are heterotrophs some strains are able to grow autotrophically 4. Mycobacteria are metabolically versatile organisms, as they are able to grow on a variety of carbohydrates, alcohols, organic acids, hydrocarbons 4, ketones and carboxylic acids 7. They play an important role in degradation of the cholesterol in the municipal sewage 9.The major mycobacterial species are indicated to be poorly characterized species, such as M. brumae, M. crocinum, M. sphagni, etc. A few opportunistic pathogens like M. brisbanense and M. fredriksberense has been detected in activated sludge 9, but no obligate pathogenic mycobacteria have been found 10.

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FISH probes

Myc657 8


 In situOther
Aerobic Heterotroph45
Nitrite Reduction
Sulfate Reduction
Short-chain Fatty Acids45
Proteins/Amino Acids

Abundance Information

 10 % percentileMedian90 % percentile
Activated Sludge00.10.4

Predominant InActivated sludge


[1] Petrovski, Dyson, Quill, McIlroy, Tillett, Seviour, et al. (2011): An examination of the mechanisms for stable foam formation in activated sludge systems. Water Res. 45 (5): 2146-54. doi:10.1016/j.watres.2010.12.026

[2] - NCBI genome database, NCBI id 1763 -

[3] - Wikimedia -

[4] Hartmans, S., De Bont, J.A.M., and Stackebrandt, E. (2006) The genus Mycobacterium- Nonmedical. In: The Prokaryotes. 3: 889-918. - Hartmans Et Al 2006 -

[5] Lory, S. (2014) The family Mycobactericeae. In: E, Rosenberg., E.F. De Long., S. Lory., E. Stackebrandt., and F. Thompson. The Prokaryotes: Actinobacteria, pp 571-575. Heidelberg, Berlin, Springer. - Lory 2014 -

[6] Nielsen PH, Daims H, and Lemmer, H (2009) FISH Handbook for Biological Wastewater Treatment: Identification and quantification of microorganisms in activated sludge and biofilms by FISH. IWA Publishing Company - Nielsen Et Al 2009 -

[7] Cole, Brosch, Parkhill, Garnier, Churcher, Harris, et al. (1998): Deciphering the biology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from the complete genome sequence. Nature 393 (6685): 537-44. doi:10.1038/31159

[8] Davenport, Curtis, Goodfellow, Stainsby, Bingley (2000): Quantitative use of fluorescent in situ hybridization to examine relationships between mycolic acid-containing actinomycetes and foaming in activated sludge plants. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 66 (3): 1158-66.

[9] Guo, Zhang, Li, Wang, Ju, Liang, et al. (2019): Mycobacterial species and their contribution to cholesterol degradation in wastewater treatment plants. Sci Rep 9 (1): 836. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-37332-w

[10] Guo, Wang, Yu, Zhang (2015): Detailed investigation of the microbial community in foaming activated sludge reveals novel foam formers. Sci Rep 5 (): 7637. doi:10.1038/srep07637

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