Neisseria gonorrhoeae

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Gonococcus Neisser 1879

Neisseria gonorrhoeae, also known as gonococci (plural), or gonococcus (singular), is a species of Gram-negative coffee bean-shaped diplococci bacteria responsible for the sexually transmitted infection gonorrhea.[1]

N. gonorrhoea was first described by Albert Neisser in 1879.

Contents

Microbiology

Neisseria are fastidious Gram-negative cocci that require nutrient supplementation to grow in laboratory cultures. Specifically, they grow on chocolate agar with carbon dioxide. These cocci are facultatively intracellular and typically appear in pairs (diplococci), in the shape of coffee beans. Of the eleven species of Neisseria that colonize humans, only two are pathogens. N. gonorrhoeae is the causative agent of gonorrhoea and is transmitted via sexual contact.[2]

Neisseria is usually isolated on Thayer-Martin agar—an agar plate containing antibiotics (Vancomycin, Colistin, Nystatin, and SXT) and nutrients that facilitate the growth of Neisseria species while inhibiting the growth of contaminating bacteria and fungi. Further testing to differentiate the species includes testing for oxidase (all clinically relevant Neisseria show a positive reaction) and the carbohydrates maltose, sucrose, and glucose test in which N. gonorrhoeae will only oxidize (that is, utilize) the glucose.

N. gonorrhoeae are motile (twitching motility) and possess type IV pili to adhere to surfaces. The type IV pili operate mechanistically similar to a grappling hook. Pili extend and attach to a substrate which signals the pilus to retract, dragging the cell forward. N. gonorrhoeae are able to pull 100,000 times their own weight and it has been claimed that the pili used to do so are the strongest biological motor known to date, exerting one nanonewton.[3]

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