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Domain: Bacteria

Phylum: Firmicutes

Class: Bacilli

Order: Lactobacillales

Family: Carnobacteriaceae


Carnobacterium alterfunditum

Carnobacterium divergens

Carnobacterium funditum

Carnobacterium gallinarum

Carnobacterium iners

Carnobacterium inhibens

Carnobacterium jeotgali

Carnobacterium maltaromaticum

Carnobacterium piscicola

Carnobacterium mobile

Carnobacterium pleistocenium

Carnobacterium viridans

  • Please note this is not an exhaustive list.

Description and Significance

Carnobacterium are gram-positive rod-shaped lactic acid bacteria. Although they are lactic acid producing bacteria, they grow in a PH of 9 and do not tolerate acidic environments very well. Most of the species produce lactic acid through various processes. Identifying Carnobacterium is easiest using 16S-23S rDNA ISRs that gives species specific primers that are helpful in distinguishing eight of the Carnobacterium species ( C. divergens, C. mobile, C. funditum, C. alterfun-ditum, C. inhibens, C. viridans, C. gallinarum and C. piscicola) using PCR identification. The presence of Carnobacterium can be found in seawater as well as dairy, fish, & meat products. They are commonly found in in polar regions and temperate environments due to their tolerance to freezing temperatures and thawing. They also are tolerant of high pressure conditions. Carnobacterium include the psycrophilic anaerobic species C. maltaromaticum, C. divergens & C. pleistocenium. Certain species have preservative qualities of meat products. Some are also attributed to meat spoilage. C. pleistocenium has been found in a permafrost tunnel in Fox, Alaska. The ice dates back to the Pleistocene Epoch (1.8 Ma to 11,000 years ago).

Scanning electron microscopy of Carnobacterium pleistocenium. From Pikuta et al.[7

Genome Structure

Carnobacterium have linear For C. divergens and C. pleistocenium, the genome size was estimated to 3.2 Mb, and for C. alterfunditum, it was estimated to be 2.9 Mb (Daniel, 1995; Pikuta et al., 2005) We only found record of one Carnobacterium genome sequencing project completed. It was Carnobacterium sp. AT7, a piezophilic strain isolated from the Aleutian trench at a depth of 2500 m. The data already available indicate that the Carnobacterium sp. AT7 genome contains 2.4 Mb and encodes 2388 proteins. The final sequence of Carnobacterium sp. 17-4 comprises one chromosome of 2,635,294 bp and one plasmid of 50,105 bp. The chromosome (35.25% G+C content) comprises 2,420 predicted protein-encoding genes, 67 tRNA genes, 8 rRNA operons, and 1 single 5S rRNA gene. The plasmid (31.53% G+C content) harbors 54 protein-encoding genes. ( (Liolios et al., 2006).


Rachman C, Kabadjova P, Valcheva R, Prévost H & Dousset X (2004) Identification of Carnobacterium species by restriction fragment length polymorphism of the 16S–23S rRNA gene intergenic spacer region and species-specific PCR. Appl Environ Microbiol 70: 4468–4477.

Cell Structure, Metabolism and Life Cycle

C. divergens & C. maltaromaticum have properties that make them preservative-like. Several strains of C. maltaromaticum have been FDA approved to be used as a preservative in processed, ready to eat meat products. Species produce lactic acid mainly from glucose. However, C. pleistocenium also produce CO2, ethanol, and acetic acid as well. Most species are psychrophiles, growing at 0 degrees Celsius. They are gram stain positive, meaning they have a large amount of peptidoglycan in their cell walls. They can be motile or non-motile and do not have spores. There is little known about the metabolism of Carnobacterium, except that they produce lactic acid and get their energy from fermentation of different hexoses. Acetic acid and ethanol are also common byproducts. They grow extremely well when heme, a blood pigment with iron, is added to aerobic conditions. However, they can also live in anaerobic conditions as well. C. maltaromaticum & C. mobile may produce gas from glucose. There is little information on the role of species of Carnobacterium in relation to meat spoilage. One study showed that the species C. maltaromaticum and C. divergens had little effect on meat spoilage. There is little to no information on the life cycle of Carnobacterium species.

Ecology and Pathogenesis

Habitat; symbiosis; biogeochemical significance; contributions to environment.
If relevant, how does this organism cause disease? Human, animal, plant hosts? Virulence factors, as well as patient symptoms.


Benson DA, Karsch-Mizrachi I, Lipman DJ, Ostell J, Sayers EW (2009). GenBank. Nucleic Acids Res. 2009 Jan;37(Database issue):D26-31. Epub 2008 Oct 21. [PubMed]

Collins M.D, Farow J.A.E, Philips B.A, Ferusu S., Jones D. "Classification of Lactobacillus divergens, Lactobacillus piscicola and some catalase-negative, asporogenous, rod-shaped bacteria from poultry in a new genus Carnobacterium" International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology, 37 (1987), pp. 310–316

Joborn A., Dorsch M., Christer O.J., Westerdahl A. & Kjelleberg S. (1999) Carnobacterium inhibens sp. nov., isolated from the intestine of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology 49, 1891–1898

Leisner J. J., Laursen B. G., Prevost H., Drider D., Dalgaard P. 2007. "Carnobacterium: positive and negative effects in the environment and in foods." FEMS Microbiol. Rev. 31, 592–613

Manchester, L., Lai, S., and Goodacre, R. "Whole-organism Fingerprinting of the Genus Carnobacterium using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR)". Systematic and Applied Microbiology . 2004. Volume 27. p. 186-191.

De Vos P., et al. 2009. Bergey's manual of systematic bacteriology, vol. 3 The Firmicutes, p. 549-557. Springer, New York, NY.

Rachman C, Kabadjova P, Valcheva R, Prévost H & Dousset X (2004) Identification of Carnobacterium species by restriction fragment length polymorphism of the 16S–23S rRNA gene intergenic spacer region and species-specific PCR. Appl Environ Microbiol 70: 4468–4477.

Sayers EW, Barrett T, Benson DA, Bryant SH, Canese K, Chetvernin V, Church DM, DiCuccio M, Edgar R, Federhen S, Feolo M, Geer LY, Helmberg W, Kapustin Y, Landsman D, Lipman DJ, Madden TL, Maglott DR, Miller V, Mizrachi I, Ostell J, Pruitt KD, Schuler GD, Sequeira E, Sherry ST, Shumway M, Sirotkin K, Souvorov A, Starchenko G, Tatusova TA, Wagner L, Yaschenko E, Ye J (2009). Database resources of the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Nucleic Acids Res. 2009 Jan;37(Database issue):D5-15. Epub 2008 Oct 21. [PubMed]


Page authored by Heather Moule and Catherine Hencsie, student of Dr. Walker & Dr. Kashefi at Michigan State University.