Sutterella wadsworthensis

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Higher order taxa

Bacteria; Proteobacteria. Proteobacteria. Burkholderiales; Sutterellaceae; Sutterella; Wadsworthensis(1).


Sutterella wadsworthensis

Description and significance

Sutterella Wadsworthensis is a Gram-negative rod Bacteria. S. wadsworth was named in memory of Vera Sutter, the director of the Wadsworth Anaerobe Laboratory in New York for twenty years(1). In 2006, the Wadsworth lab was working with the bacteria Campylobacter gracilis when Sutterella wadsworthensis was discovered unexpectedly. The lab discovered a new bacterial species had been discovered when Sutterella wadsworthensis displayed different and genetic criteria than C. gracilis(1). S. wadsworthensis has previously been isolated from canine feces(2). One other Sutterella species has been isolated from the feces of a healthy male Labrador dog(3).

Genome structure

16S rRNA sequencing was used to identify S. wadsworthensis was a member of the family Alcaligenaceae(4). PCR amplification of the 16S rRNA gene has been performed to compare the few species of Sutterella. The 16S RNA gene has been completely sequenced and was found to contain greater than 1400 nt(3).

Cell structure and metabolism

S. wadsworthensis is bile-resistant, asaccharolytic, nitrate-positive, urease- negative bacteria. The bacteria is recognized by its cell wall containing fatty acid patterns(1). Bacterial rod length ranges: 0.5-1 X 1-3 μm. S. wadsworthensis grows in a 2% to 6% oxygen atmosphere or under aerobic conditions(4). S. wadsworthensis is asaccharolytic and oxidase test negative.


S. wadsworthensis strains have been isolated mainly from infections of the gastrointestinal track(4). The bacteria have also been found in the intestinal track of healthy humans and canines.


S. wadsworthensis has been isolated with patients with gastrointestinal infections(1). One study found patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UT) to contain the bacteria after performing colonoscopies on the patients. In the same study, the bacteria was also found in a control group of patients with healthy gastrointestinal tracks(3). Over 95% of S. wadsworthensis are susceptible to amoxicillin(4). S. wadsworthensis has been found in the intestinal tracks of humans and canines.

Current Research and or Application to Biotechnology

Relatively little research has been done on S. wadsworthensis. However, some research has been done isolating the bacteria in a study investigating its role in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)(3). Of a study of 134 adults and 61 pediatric patients, 26 patients were found to contain S. wadsworthensis in their intestinal track.

More recent studies show that unlike Campylobacter gracilis, a bacterial species S. wadsworthensis is easily mistaken as, S. wadsworthensis is more commonly found in abdominal sources , while C. gracilis can be found in non-abdominal regions. It was also discovered that S. wadsworthensis is more likely to be found in more serious gastrointestinal infections than C. gracilis(5).

One study conducted on the bacterial make up of the intestinal samples from children with autism and gastrointestinal dysfunction (AUT-GI) showed that Sutterella 16S rRNA gene sequences were present in 12 of the 23 children and non of the control patients(6). Whether the bacteria can be used as an indicator for AUT-GI or if it is part of the normal intestinal flora remains to be determined.


1. Wexler (H.M), Reeves (D.), Summanen (P.H.), Molitoris (E.), McTeague (M.), Duncan (J.), Wilson (K.H.) and Finegold (S.M.): Sutterella wadsworthensis gen. nov., sp. nov., bile-resistant microaerophilic Campylobacter gracilis-like clinical isolates. Int. J. Syst. Bacteriol., 1996, 46, 252-258.

2.Mukhopadhya I, Hansen R, Nicholl CE, Alhaidan YA, Thomson JM, et al. “A Comprehensive Evaluation of Colonic Mucosal Isolates of Sutterella wadsworthensis from Inflammatory Bowel Disease”. PLoS ONE 6(10): e27076. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027076. October 2011

3. Hazel L. Greetham, Matthew D. Collins, Glenn R. Gibson, Catriona Giffard, Enevold Falsen3 and Paul A. Lawson. “Sutterella stercoricanis sp. nov., isolated from canine faeces”. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology

4. Boone, David R., Richard W. Castenholz, George M. Garrity, Don J. Brenner, Noel R. Krieg, James T. Staley. Bergey's Manual Of Systematic Bacteriology, Volume 2, Part 3. 2004.

5. Molitoris E, H. M. Wexler, and S. M. Finegold. From the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California. 1997.

6. Brent L. Williams, Mady Hornig, Tanmay Parekh, et al. 2012. Application of Novel PCR-Based Methods for Detection, Quantitation, and Phylogenetic Characterization of Sutterella Species in Intestinal Biopsy Samples from Children with Autism and Gastrointestinal Disturbances . mBio 3(1): . doi:10.1128/mBio.00261-11.

Edited by student of Dr. Lynn M Bedard, DePauw University