Mycobacterium tuberculosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Mashal Awais, M.D.[2]; João André Alves Silva, M.D. [3]

This page is about microbiologic aspects of the organism(s).  For clinical aspects of the disease, see Tuberculosis.

Synonyms and keywords: M. Tuberculosis


Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis. M. tuberculosis is an obligate aerobe, non-encapsulated, non-motile, acid-fast bacillus. . M. tuberculosis is one of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, which also includes bacteria, such as M. bovis and M. africanum. The bacterium has a very slow rate of replication, and its genetic variations account for the different strains and the growing drug resistance. M. tuberculosis has tropism for different kinds of human cells, with preference for cells of the lung. The main natural reservoir for M. tuberculosis are Human beings; however, the bacteria can also infect other species.


Computer-generated image of a cluster of rod-shaped drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. Image provided by the CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [1]
Thin agar culture plates reveal the results of a drug susceptibility test on Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria Image provided by the CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [2]

Cellular organisms; bacteria; Actinobacteria; Actinobacteria; Actinobacteridae; Actinomycetales; Corynebacterineae; Mycobacteriaceae; Mycobacterium; Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex; M. tuberculosis[3]



There is no particular tissue tropism for M. tuberculosis and it can infect almost all human tissues. However, M. tuberculosis prefers tissues with high levels of oxygen , hence, pulmonary tuberculosis has the highest rate. [4]

Natural Reservoir

The main natural reservoir for M. tuberculosis are Human beings; however, the bacteria can also infect other species.[4]


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  3. "Mycobacterium tuberculosis".
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Lawn SD, Zumla AI (2011). "Tuberculosis". Lancet. 378 (9785): 57–72. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62173-3. PMID 21420161.
  5. Smith NH, Hewinson RG, Kremer K, Brosch R, Gordon SV (2009). "Myths and misconceptions: the origin and evolution of Mycobacterium tuberculosis". Nat Rev Microbiol. 7 (7): 537–44. doi:10.1038/nrmicro2165. PMID 19483712.
  6. Gagneux S, Small PM (2007). "Global phylogeography of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and implications for tuberculosis product development". Lancet Infect Dis. 7 (5): 328–37. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(07)70108-1. PMID 17448936.