Gram-positive anaerobic cocci--commensals and opportunistic pathogens

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2013 Jul;37(4):520-53. doi: 10.1111/1574-6976.12005. Epub 2012 Nov 15.


Among the Gram-positive anaerobic bacteria associated with clinical infections, the Gram-positive anaerobic cocci (GPAC) are the most prominent and account for approximately 25-30% of all isolated anaerobic bacteria from clinical specimens. Still, routine culture and identification of these slowly growing anaerobes to the species level has been limited in the diagnostic laboratory, mainly due to the requirement of prolonged incubation times and time-consuming phenotypic identification. In addition, GPAC are mostly isolated from polymicrobial infections with known pathogens and therefore their relevance has often been overlooked. However, through improvements in diagnostic and in particular molecular techniques, the isolation and identification of individual genera and species of GPAC associated with specific infections have been enhanced. Furthermore, the taxonomy of GPAC has undergone considerable changes over the years, mainly due to the development of molecular identification methods. Existing species have been renamed and novel species have been added, resulting in changes of the nomenclature. As the abundance and significance of GPAC in clinical infections grow, knowledge of virulence factors and antibiotic resistance patterns of different species becomes more important. The present review describes recent advances of GPAC and what is known of the biology and pathogenic effects of Anaerococcus, Finegoldia, Parvimonas, Peptoniphilus and Peptostreptococcus, the most important GPAC genera isolated from human infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / classification
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / drug effects
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / pathogenicity*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Gram-Positive Cocci / classification
  • Gram-Positive Cocci / drug effects
  • Gram-Positive Cocci / pathogenicity*
  • Humans


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents