Numerical taxonomy of mycobactin-dependent mycobacteria, emended description of Mycobacterium avium, and description of Mycobacterium avium subsp. avium subsp. nov., Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis subsp. nov., and Mycobacterium avium subsp. silvaticum subsp. nov

Int J Syst Bacteriol. 1990 Jul;40(3):254-60. doi: 10.1099/00207713-40-3-254.


We performed a numerical taxonomy analysis of 38 Mycobacterium paratuberculosis and related mycobacterial strains, including wood pigeon mycobacteria; this analysis was based on 22 tests, which were selected for their potential discriminative value from a total of 51 tests studied and produced four well-defined clusters. Cluster 1 contained the M. paratuberculosis strains, including two strains isolated from Crohn's disease patients; cluster 2 contained Mycobacterium avium and Mycobacterium intracellulare reference strains; cluster 3 consisted of the wood pigeon mycobacteria; and the only strain in cluster 4 was M. paratuberculosis 316F, which is used for antigen and vaccine production. Strains in cluster 1 were mycobactin dependent even when they were subcultured, whereas strains in cluster 3 were unable to grow on egg medium and their growth was stimulated by pH 5.5. Growth stimulation by pyruvate, resistance to D-cycloserine (50 micrograms/ml), and alkaline phosphatase activity also were characteristics that were useful for discriminating between clusters 1 and 3. The results of previous DNA-DNA hybridization studies have demonstrated that M. avium Chester 1901, M. paratuberculosis Bergey et al. 1923, and the wood pigeon mycobacteria belong to a single genomic species, and we propose that the name of this species should be M. avium. On the basis of the results of previous genomic analyses based on restriction fragment length, the results of polymorphism studies, and DNA patterns determined by field inversion gel electrophoresis as well as the results of our phenotypic study, we propose that the species should be divided into subspecies which correspond to pathogenicity and host range characteristics.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Mycobacterium avium / classification*
  • Mycobacterium avium / metabolism
  • Oxazoles / metabolism


  • Oxazoles
  • mycobactins