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Rickettsia rickettsii.jpg
Rickettsia rickettsii (red dots) in the cell of a deer tick
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Domain: Bacteria
Phylum: Proteobacteria
Class: Alphaproteobacteria
Order: Rickettsiales
Pinkerton, 1936
Tribe and Genera

The Rickettsiaceae are a family of bacteria. The genus Rickettsia is the most prominent genus within the family. From this family, the bacteria that eventually formed the mitochondrion (an organelle in eukaryotic cells) is believed to have originated. Most human pathogens in this family are in genus Rickettsia. They spend part of their lifecycle in the bodies of arthropods such as ticks or lice, and are then transmitted to humans or other mammals by the bite of the arthropod. It contains Gram-negative bacteria, very sensitive to environmental exposure, thus is adapted to obligate intracellular infection. Rickettsia rickettsii is considered the prototypical infectious organism in the group.

Family is one of the eight major hierarcical taxonomic ranks in Linnaean taxonomy; it is classified between order and genus. A family may be divided into subfamilies, which are intermediate ranks between the ranks of family and genus. The official family names are Latin in origin; however, popular names are often used: for example, walnut trees and hickory trees belong to the family Juglandaceae, but that family is commonly referred to as being the "walnut family".

Bacteria A domain of prokaryotes – single celled organisms without a nucleus

Bacteria are a type of biological cell. They constitute a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a number of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals. Bacteria were among the first life forms to appear on Earth, and are present in most of its habitats. Bacteria inhabit soil, water, acidic hot springs, radioactive waste, and the deep portions of Earth's crust. Bacteria also live in symbiotic and parasitic relationships with plants and animals. Most bacteria have not been characterised, and only about half of the bacterial phyla have species that can be grown in the laboratory. The study of bacteria is known as bacteriology, a branch of microbiology.

A genus is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.


Comparative genomic analysis has identified three proteins, RP030, RP187 and RP192, which are uniquely found in members of the family Rickettsiaceae and serve as molecular markers for this family. [1] In addition, conserved signature indels in a number of proteins including a four-amino-acid insert in transcription repair coupling factor Mfd, a 10-amino-acid insert in ribosomal protein L19, one-amino-acid inserts each in the FtsZ protein and the major sigma factor 70, and a one-amino-acid deletion in exonuclease VII protein that are specific for the Rickettsiaceae species have been identified. [2]

Conserved signature inserts and deletions (CSIs) in protein sequences provide an important category of molecular markers for understanding phylogenetic relationships. CSIs, brought about by rare genetic changes, provide useful phylogenetic markers that are generally of defined size and they are flanked on both sides by conserved regions to ensure their reliability. While indels can be arbitrary inserts or deletions, CSIs are defined as only those protein indels that are present within conserved regions of the protein.


FtsZ is a protein encoded by the ftsZ gene that assembles into a ring at the future site of the septum of bacterial cell division. This is a prokaryotic homologue to the eukaryotic protein tubulin. FtsZ has been named after "Filamenting temperature-sensitive mutant Z". The hypothesis was that cell division mutants of E. coli would grow as filaments due to the inability of the daughter cells to separate from one another.

A sigma factor is a protein needed for initiation of transcription in bacteria. It is a bacterial transcription initiation factor that enables specific binding of RNA polymerase (RNAP) to gene promoters. It is homologous to archaeal transcription factor B and to eukaryotic factor TFIIB. The specific sigma factor used to initiate transcription of a given gene will vary, depending on the gene and on the environmental signals needed to initiate transcription of that gene. Selection of promoters by RNA polymerase is dependent on the sigma factor that associates with it.

Schematic ribosomal RNA phylogeny of Alphaproteobacteria

  Magnetococcus marinus


  Rhodospirillales, Sphingomonadales,
  Rhodobacteraceae, Rhizobiales, etc.

The Rhodospirillales are an order of Proteobacteria, with two families: the Acetobacteraceae and the Rhodospirillaceae.

The Rhodobacteraceae are a family of proteobacteria in the order Rhodobacterales within the alpha subgroup. Like all proteobacteria, they are gram-negative. It contains chemoorganotrophs and photoheterotrophs bacteria. Many occur in aquatic habitats.

Rhizobiales order of bacteria

The Rhizobiales are an order of Gram-negative Alphaproteobacteria.




  Subgroups Ib, II, IIIa, IIIb, IV and V












The cladogram of Rickettsidae has been inferred by Ferla et al. [3] from the comparison of 16S + 23S ribosomal RNA sequences.

Related Research Articles

Gram-positive bacteria bacteria that give a positive result in the Gram stain test, which is traditionally used to quickly classify bacteria into two broad categories according to their cell wall

Gram-positive bacteria are bacteria that give a positive result in the Gram stain test, which is traditionally used to quickly classify bacteria into two broad categories according to their cell wall.

Proteobacteria phylum of Gram-negative bacteria

Proteobacteria is a major phylum of gram-negative bacteria. They include a wide variety of pathogens, such as Escherichia, Salmonella, Vibrio, Helicobacter, Yersinia, Legionellales and many other notable genera. Others are free-living (non-parasitic) and include many of the bacteria responsible for nitrogen fixation.

<i>Rickettsia</i> type of bacteria that causes typhus, among other diseases

Rickettsia is a genus of nonmotile, Gram-negative, non-spore-forming, highly pleomorphic bacteria that may occur in the forms of cocci 0.1 μm in diameter, rods 1–4 μm long, or threads of up to about 10 μm long. The term "rickettsia" has nothing to do with rickets, which is a deficiency disease resulting from lack of vitamin D; the bacterial genus Rickettsia was named after Howard Taylor Ricketts, in honour of his pioneering work on tick-borne spotted fever.

Spirochaete phylum of Gram-negative bacteria

A spirochaete or spirochete is a member of the phylum Spirochaetes, which contains distinctive diderm (double-membrane) bacteria, most of which have long, helically coiled cells. Spirochaetes are chemoheterotrophic in nature, with lengths between 3 and 500 µm and diameters around 0.09 to at least 3 µm.

Protein catabolism is the breakdown of proteins into amino acids and simple derivative compounds, for transport into the cell through the plasma membrane and ultimately for the polymerization into new proteins via the use of ribonucleic acids (RNA) and ribosomes. Protein catabolism, which is the breakdown of macromolecules, is essentially a digestion process. Protein catabolism is most commonly carried out by non-specific endo- and exo-proteases. However, specific proteases are used for cleaving of proteins for regulatory and protein trafficking purposes. One example is the subclass of proteolytic enzymes called oligopeptidase.

The Aquificae phylum is a diverse collection of bacteria that live in harsh environmental settings. The name 'Aquificae' was given to this phylum based on an early genus identified within this group, Aquifex, which is able to produce water by oxidizing hydrogen. They have been found in springs, pools, and oceans. They are autotrophs, and are the primary carbon fixers in their environments. These bacteria are Gram-negative, non-spore-forming rods. They are true bacteria as opposed to the other inhabitants of extreme environments, the Archaea.

The Chloroflexia are one of six classes of bacteria in the phylum Chloroflexi, known as filamentous green non-sulfur bacteria. They produce energy from light and are named for their green pigment, usually found in photosynthetic bodies called chlorosomes.

Bacteroidetes phylum of Gram-negative bacteria

The phylum Bacteroidetes is composed of three large classes of Gram-negative, nonsporeforming, anaerobic or aerobic, and rod-shaped bacteria that are widely distributed in the environment, including in soil, sediments, and sea water, as well as in the guts and on the skin of animals. Bacteroidetes spp. are part of normal, healthy placental microbiome.

Campylobacterales order of bacteria

The Campylobacterales are an order of Proteobacteria which make up the epsilon subdivision, together with the small family Nautiliaceae. Like all Proteobacteria, they are Gram-negative. Most of the species are microaerophilic.

Rickettsiales Order of bacteria

The Rickettsiales, informally called rickettsias, are an order of small Alphaproteobacteria that are endosymbionts of eukaryotic cells. Some are notable pathogens, including Rickettsia, which causes a variety of diseases in humans, and Ehrlichia, which causes diseases in livestock. Another genus of well-known Rickettsiales are the Wolbachia, which infect approximately two-thirds of all arthropods and nearly all filarial nematodes. Genetic studies support the endosymbiotic theory according to which mitochondria and related organelles developed from members of this group.

<i>Corynebacterium</i> genus of bacteria

Corynebacterium is a genus of bacteria that are Gram-positive and aerobic. They are bacilli (rod-shaped), and in some phases of life they are, more particularly, club-shaped, which inspired the genus name.

<i>Nocardia</i> genus of Gram-positive bacteria

Nocardia is a genus of weakly staining Gram-positive, catalase-positive, rod-shaped bacteria. It forms partially acid-fast beaded branching filaments. It contains a total of 85 species. Some species are nonpathogenic, while others are responsible for nocardiosis. Nocardia species are found worldwide in soil rich in organic matter. In addition, they are oral microflora found in healthy gingiva, as well as periodontal pockets. Most Nocardia infections are acquired by inhalation of the bacteria or through traumatic introduction.

Chlorobium is a genus of green sulfur bacteria. They are photolithotrophic oxidizers of sulfur and most notably utilise a noncyclic electron transport chain to reduce NAD+. Photosynthesis is achieved using a Type 1 Reaction Centre using bacteriochlorophyll (BChl) a. Two photosynthetic antenna complexes aid in light absorption: the Fenna-Matthews-Olson complex, and the chlorosomes which employ mostly BChl c, d, or e. Hydrogen sulfide is used as an electron source and carbon dioxide its carbon source.

Bifidobacteriales order of bacteria

Bifidobacteriales is an order of bacteria, in the subclass of Actinobacteridae.

Fibrobacteres is a small bacterial phylum which includes many of the major rumen bacteria, allowing for the degradation of plant-based cellulose in ruminant animals. Members of this phylum were categorized in other phyla. The genus Fibrobacter was removed from the genus Bacteroides in 1988.

Streptomycetaceae family of Actinobacteria

The Streptomycetaceae are a family of Actinobacteria, making up to the monotypic suborder Streptomycineae. It includes the important genus Streptomyces. This was the original source of many antibiotics, namely streptomycin, the first antibiotic against tuberculosis.

Alphaproteobacteria class of bacteria

Alphaproteobacteria is a class of bacteria in the phylum Proteobacteria. Its members are highly diverse and possess few commonalities, but nevertheless share a common ancestor. Like all Proteobacteria, its members are gram-negative and some of its intracellular parasitic members lack peptidoglycan and are consequently gram variable.

Fibrobacter succinogenes is a cellulolytic bacterium species in the genus Fibrobacter. It is present in the rumen of cattle. Beta glucans are its substrate of choice in the rumen and its products after digestion include formate, acetate and succinate. Fibrobacter succinogenes forms characteristic extensive grooves in crystalline cellulose, and is also rather readily detached from its substrate during sample preparation.

Ehrlichia ewingii is a species of rickettsiales bacteria. It has recently been associated with human infection, and can be detected via PCR serological testing. The name Ehrlichia ewingii was proposed in 1992.


  1. Gupta, R. S. and Mok, A. (2007). Phylogenomics and signature proteins for the alpha Proteobacteria and its main groups. BMC Microbiology. 7:106. DOI:10.1186/1471-2180-7-106.
  2. Gupta, R. S. (2005). Protein signatures distinctive of alpha proteobacteria and its subgroups and a model for alpha proteobacterial evolution. Critical Reviews in Microbiology. 3:101-135. DOI: 10.1080/10408410590922393.
  3. Ferla MP, Thrash JC, Giovannoni SJ, Patrick WM (2013). "New rRNA gene-based phylogenies of the Alphaproteobacteria provide perspective on major groups, mitochondrial ancestry and phylogenetic instability". PLOS One. 8 (12): e83383. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083383. PMC   3859672 . PMID   24349502.