The Mycoplasma genitalium belongs to the genus of mycoplasmas. Mycoplasmas were first isolated from sick cattle in 1898. With the Mycoplasma pneumoniae it was possible for the first time in 1962 to detect a pathogenic form for humans. In 1981, the Mycoplasma genitalium was discovered and assigned in 1983 as a new species of the genus Mycoplasma. Complete gene sequencing was published in 1995.

What is Mycoplasma genitalium?

The bacterium Mykoplasma genitalium belongs to the genus of mycoplasma and to the superclass of Mollicutes. Bacterial species of the genus Mollicutes have no cell wall. The term Mollicutes means soft skin or Weichhäutler (Molli = soft, chubby, cutis = skin) and points out.

The missing cell wall of the Mollicutes in general and the Mycoplasma in particular allows a pleomorphic, so multi-shaped form. The bacteria appear both vesicular and threadlike and can change shape as needed. The thread-like shape of mycoplasma reminds very strongly of a fungus, which is expressed in the term Mycoplasma. Translated, mycoplasma (myko = fungus and plasma = form) means something like "mushroom-shaped".

The lack of a cell wall causes apart from the pleomorphic properties but also pronounced susceptibility to various environmental influences. Thus, even slight osmotic fluctuations of the surrounding medium can lead to the destruction of the germs.

On the other hand, mycoplasmas also have a natural resistance to antibiotics that adhere to the cell wall due to the missing cell wall. Conventional antibiotics such as penicillins thus show no effect.

The mycoplasmas are of very small form and, at 200-300 nanometers, are among the smallest bacterial genera in the world. Because of their small size, they often play a role as laboratory contaminants. Since most sterile sterilized filters do not fall below the nominal pore size of 220 nanometers, effective filtration of Mycoplasmas can not be guaranteed. The genome of mycoplasmas is one of the smallest prokaryotic genomes in the world.

Mycoplasmas (580-1, 380 kbp) belong to the nanoarchaeum equitans (~ 500 kbp) and the endosymbiont Carsonella ruddii (about 160 kbp) to the genetically smallest germs capable of auto-replication. Another conspicuous feature is cholesterol, which is contained in the cell membrane of mycoplasmas and can otherwise only be found in eukaryotic cells.

Accurate RNA studies show that the genus of Mollicutes can not be counted as the basis of the bacterial genealogy, but have emerged through degenerative evolution. The derivation of Lactobacillus microorganisms and subsequent loss of much of the genetic information through degenerative evolution is highly probable, making the Mollicutes class representative of the smallest known genome.

The small genome of mycoplasmas lends itself to research for synthesizing and so it is not surprising that the research group around Craig Venter synthetically produced the germ Mykoplasma genitalium in 2008. The replica is called Mycoplasma genitalium JCVI-1.0 and is considered the first completely synthetically produced bacterium.

Occurrence, distribution & characteristics

Mycoplasmas have a parasitic lifestyle and rely on host cells. They can parasitize both extracellularly at the host cell and intracellularly. Mycoplasmas rely on essential metabolic components such as amino and nucleic acids from the host cell.

It has the ability to downsize the genome as needed, which accommodates an undemanding parasitic lifestyle. The Mycoplasma genitalium settles in the urethra and lives here preferably on the epithelial cells.

Diseases & complaints

Mycoplasmas are responsible for many diseases due to their parasitic lifestyle. Mycoplasma genitalium is one of the most common pathogens for non-gonococcal urethritis, in addition to Chlamydia trachomatis. Non-gonococcal urethritis refers to urethritis, which is not triggered by the usually responsible gonococci.

The urethritis usually occurs with typical symptoms such as severe burning sensation during urination and muco-purulent discharge. As a result, women may experience profuse bleeding after sexual intercourse.

It can also lead to serious complications in women. The much shorter urethra (urethra) can cause severe inflammation. Inflammatory diseases such as cervicitis (cervicitis), endometritis, salpingitis and other pelvic inflammatory diseases may occur.

A correlation with other complaints and diseases such as infertility or ovarian cancer has been statistically proven, but could not be proven causally so far.

A reduced development of the prostate has been observed in men with an already expired infection and is under discussion.

A higher intensity of HIV infection by Mycoplasma genitalium is also discussed. Furthermore, it is questionable whether the Mycoplasma genitalium must be defined as a sexually transmitted pathogen.

Urethritis, commonly referred to as gonorrhea, is a commonly transmitted infectious disease. Treatment with antibiotics is possible. But since several pathogens can trigger the symptoms, an identification of the antigen with all the resistance for a successful antibiotic therapy is inevitable.

For Mycoplasma genitalium, as is the case for most of the Mollicutes class germs, a macrolide class antibiotic, in particular azithromycin, is recommended. The macrolides do not attack the pathogen like penicillin on the cell surface, but prevent further replication by slowing down protein biosynthesis of the pathogen.

A premature application of antibiotics, in particular of penicillin, can lead to increased persistence of the pathogen, especially in germs of the class Mollicutes.

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