Are spirochetes considered as bacteria?

Topics with information and discussion about published studies related to Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
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Martian
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Are spirochetes considered as bacteria?

Post by Martian » Sat 23 Feb 2008 17:51

Quoting source: http://www.lymeneteurope.org/forum/view ... 4853#p4849
Nick wrote:
minitails2 wrote: 2. I thought that Bb WAS bacteria. Help! My understanding was that spirochetes were one type of bacteria, the most "famous" of which is syphallis. Trephonemas?
Bb, just like Treponema, is a spirochete. They are generally considered a kingdom separate from the bacteria, as they have many different properties (genetical, biological, chemical etc.). Trouble is that there is no universally accepted taxonomy lately, so some people would probably call Bb 'bacteria'. I prefer to call them spirochetes to indicate they are VERY different; and because of that, many agents that work against 'normal' bacteria may not work against spirochetes.
It seems to be the opposite to me, that spirochetes are generally classified as bacteria, but there are arguments to classify them as a separate domain.

Quoting source: http://www.textbookofbacteriology.net/Lyme.html
Borrelia burgdorferi, like the human pathogen Treponema pallidum, is a spirochete. Spirochetes are a group of phylogenetically-distinct bacteria that have a unique mode of motility by means of axial filaments (endoflagella).
Quoting source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirochete
Scientific classification
Domain: Bacteria
Phylum: Spirochetes
Class: Spirochetes
Order: Spirochaetales
Buchanan 1917

Families
Spirochetaceae
Borrelia
Brevinema
Cristispira
Spirochaeta
Spironema
Treponema

"Serpulinaceae"
Brachyspira (Serpulina)
Leptospiraceae
Leptospira
Leptonema
Just two examples. It seems to me that the most sources classify spirochetes as bacteria.
Nick wrote:Spirochetes are just as different from average bacteria (like E.Coli) as humans are different from an Oak tree.
Hmm, I'd say the difference between a human and an oak tree is (much) more than the difference between spirochetes and average bacteria.

minitails2
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Re: Are spirochetes considered as bacteria?

Post by minitails2 » Sun 24 Feb 2008 9:14

Thanks for the information Martian. I assume (perhaps correctly, perhaps not) that there are a finite number of classification systems regarding bacteria and other similar "creatures." I also would guess that such systems were created at some point in time when human knowledge about such living things was fairly undeveloped and I wonder if these classification systems have evolved over time to be more useful, or have newer classification systems been developed more recently to represent current knowledge, and to leave room for future findings.

It seems that often scientific organizations such as IEEE or whatever the specialty, seem to "mediate" these issues. Any information on this anyone? I'll have to do some research as well, but I'm at a disadvantage in this area of knowledge. ;)

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LymeEnigma
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Re: Are spirochetes considered as bacteria?

Post by LymeEnigma » Sun 24 Feb 2008 20:18

Thanks for the information ... it's nice to have the taxonomy to look at, as well. :geek:

Nick
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Re: Are spirochetes considered as bacteria?

Post by Nick » Sun 24 Feb 2008 22:41

minitails2 wrote:I assume (perhaps correctly, perhaps not) that there are a finite number of classification systems regarding bacteria and other similar "creatures." I also would guess that such systems were created at some point in time when human knowledge about such living things was fairly undeveloped and I wonder if these classification systems have evolved over time to be more useful, or have newer classification systems been developed more recently to represent current knowledge, and to leave room for future findings.
About one century ago there were few scientific classification systems (people were struggling with the newly discovered spirochetes even then), based on the phenotype (external appearance). The number of systems has multiplied over the last 30 years or so. This is because many new tools are available for making a taxonomy (e.g. genetic lineage, DNA/RNA sequencing, conservation of proteins and many other biochemical characteristics). The trouble is that these tools often don't agree about the taxonomy.

Another factor that makes things complicated is that evolution is not as simple and linear as classification systems would like. I think it is now generally accepted that important structures in higher organisms (Eukaryotes) evolved from a symbiotic relationship with simpler lifeforms, e.g. our mitochondria (conversion of chemical energy) evolved from simple aerobic bacteria, the chloroplasts (conversion of solar energy) in higher plants from cyanobacteria and some people think that our nerve cells partly evolved from ... spirochetes. So parts of these old lifeforms, including their proteins and sometimes their DNA, are still present within us; and some of that stuff is working pretty autonomous.

Martian is correct insofar that I shouldn't have used the word 'Kingdom' because this word is most often used in the taxonomies that group spirochetes with the other 'bacteria'. Still, spirochetes are VERY different from the more common 'bacteria'. If you look at the DNA sequence (gene homology), the % difference between genes of E.coli and Bb is often bigger than that between those of man and higher plants.

minitails2
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Re: Are spirochetes considered as bacteria?

Post by minitails2 » Mon 25 Feb 2008 12:18

Nick,

Thank you for that understandable explanation. So, I guess the various taxonomies have to be juggled. I got my toe in the door with the evolution references (I find evolution as a whole facinating and love the various research finds such as our hearing "system" having the same DNA as ancient fish gils - we're messy!!!) and I think I understand enough of the rest. This area of science is just zooming ahead, like others before it, and it always takes people longer to catch up and figure out how to handle all the new information. I've always enjoyed the history of science and so, to quote the Talking Heads: Same as it ever was. :)

Claudia
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Re: Are spirochetes considered as bacteria?

Post by Claudia » Mon 25 Feb 2008 13:59

Comparison of the Genome of the Oral Pathogen Treponema Denticola with other Spirochete Genomes
The analysis of the T. denticola genome and comparisons with other spirochetes has revealed insights into the evolution and adaptive responses within the spirochete phylum. T. denticola is primarily restricted to the subgingival plaque and does not cause the systemic infections and manifestations characteristic of T. pallidum, Borrelia, and Leptospira.


http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articl ... tid=397461

I came across this article a few months ago in doing a little research after a neighbor was "diagnosed" with Lyme disease by being shown under a microscope that she was "infected with the Borrelia spirochetes" in a scraping of gum tissue in her mouth at an alternative Lyme disease treatment center (the treatment they prescribed was light therapy done at their center). The content of this article may be of some interest to those interested in this thread.

Nick
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Re: Are spirochetes considered as bacteria?

Post by Nick » Mon 25 Feb 2008 18:09

Claudia wrote:The content of this article may be of some interest to those interested in this thread.
yes, it's an interesting article that explains more about the differences between the various spirochetes. It is strongly based on statistical analysis of the different genomes and I have no idea how realistic the predictions are. It is telling that even within the Treponema family there are huge genetic differences ...

Regarding 'diagnosis' from seeing live spirochetes: it's an issue that certainly needs further study. My blood which showed spirochetes under the microscope (after more than a year of AB) was tested for Bb with some diagnostic tests (I think antigen and PCR, not sure), but they could not detect any Bb. One year before that, and before taking antibiotics, there was a clear Bb confirmation with Western Blot.

It can't be coincidence that many Lyme/CFS etc. patients show these chetes in the blood, while they are usually absent in healthy people. They could be Borrelias that are hiding by removing their OSP antigens (we know this can happen when the host mounts a successfull immune response). They could also be another kind of spirochetes (like one of the many Treponemas) that gets into the bloodstream because of gut problems or a generally weak immune system. It would be very helpful if researchers can determine what exactly these creatures are. If they turn out to be Borrelia after all that would be a major issue for diagnosis of (chronic) Lyme.

Claudia
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Re: Are spirochetes considered as bacteria?

Post by Claudia » Mon 25 Feb 2008 19:08

I believe that she was misled in this manner of diagnosis, that the spirochetes swabbed from her mouth were common oral cavity microflora along with Treponema denticola and not Lyme disease causing Bb spirochetes at all, but that's another topic.

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