Gordonia rubripertincta

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Bacteria/Actinobacteria/Actinobacteria; Actinobacteridae; Actinomycetales; Corynebacterineae; Gordoniaceae

Gordonia rubripertincta

Description and Significance

Gordonia rubripertincta, like most Actinobacteria, is gram positive bacterium (high GC content) that is typically found in soil. It is an aerobic organism and forms branching hyphae resembling mycelia [1]. G. rubripertincta is nonmotile, and partially acid-alcohol fast – its cell wall is rich in mycolic acid [2]. It is important because it has the ability to degrade hydrocarbons, specifically polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) which can act as mutagens, and is thus being research as a potential mechanism for the bioremediation of soil [3]. It can also act as a rare opportunistic pathogen, particularly in patients that are already immunocompromised. G. rubripertincta has the ability to produce mycobactin, a lipid factor that promotes growth [4].

Structure and Metabolism

The cell wall composition and chemotaxonomic properties of Gordonia relate it to Mycobacterium, Rhodococcus, and Skermania. It is nocarioform, meaning it has mycelial growth that fragments into rods and cocci. It does not generate spores. The colony morphology can vary greatly even within a species, but G. rubripertincta generally appears pink to orange in color. It has a cell wall categorized as Chemotype IV because it contains mycolic acids; the major sugar in the cell wall are arabinose and galactose. The DNA contains between 63-69% GC molecules.

G. rubripertincta uses an oxidative carbohydrate metabolism. It is one of the few isolated microbes that is capable of transforming s-triazines;it has the ability to produce an s-triazine hydrolase that deaminates melamine and dechlorinates atrazine. G. rubripertincta also produces a number of useful compounds including L-lysine and biosurfactants, which allow for the degradation of hydrophobic compounds [5].

Ecology and Pathogenesis

Gordonia species are typically found in soil and aquatic habitats, but a growing number of Gordonia species are becoming associated with human and animal diseases [4] . In all known cases of infection by Gordonia species, patients were immunosuppressed and infection occurred subsequent to illness. Infection has been found after various surgical procedures, applications of catheters, or the use of heart-lung machines. Reports of infection by Gordonia species are extremely rare in comparison to other opportunistically pathogenic bacteria [5].


[1] "Actinobacteria." Encyclopedia of Life, available from http://eol.org/pages/7861/overview. Accessed 17July 2013.

[2] Shen, Fo-Ting, et al. "Gordonia soli sp. nov., a novel actinomycete isolated from soil." International journal of systematic and evolutionary microbiology 56.11 (2006): 2597-2601.

[3] Pizzul, Leticia, María del Pilar Castillo, and John Stenström. "Characterization of selected actinomycetes degrading polyaromatic hydrocarbons in liquid culture and spiked soil." World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 22.7 (2006): 745-752.

[4] Shen, Fo-Ting, et al. "Molecular detection and phylogenetic analysis of the catechol 1, 2-dioxygenase gene from< i> Gordonia spp." Systematic and applied microbiology 32.5 (2009): 291-300.

[5] M. Arenskötter, D. Bröker, A. Steinbüchel, Biology of the metabolically diverse genus Gordonia, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 70 (2004) 3195–3204


Page authored by Margaret Shevik, student of Mandy Brosnahan, Instructor at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, MICB 3301/3303: Biology of Microorganisms.