M. bovis

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Mycobacterium bovis BCG

Structure and Physiology

This bacterium is a rod shaped, slow growing, aerobic bacterium. As this microbe is acid-fast, staining is done using the Ziehl-Neelson stain rather than gram staining. 

Transmission and Disease

Mycobacterium bovis BCG is the causative agent of tuberculosis in cattle and a close relative (>99.95% identical at the nucleotide level) of M. tuberculosis, which causes tuberculosis in humans. Because of this close relationship, M. bovis BCG is used as a surrogate in antimicrobial tests for tuberculosis disinfectant claims. 


Because of a thick cell wall, the bacterium can survive harsh environmental conditions and is difficult to kill.


The “BCG” in this organism’s name stands for Bacillus Calmette–Guérin vaccine strain, developed from 1908-1921 by french bacteriologists Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin. It was created by growing M. bovis.  

  • Garnier, Thierry, et al. “The complete genome sequence of Mycobacterium bovis.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100.13 (2003): 7877-7882.