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Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Veterinary bacteriology: information about important bacteria
Veterinary bacteriology


Species/Subspecies: Escherichia coli
Categories: Zoonotic; causes hemolysis; motile; notifiable diseases and bacteria
Etymology: Genus name: named after the German pediatrician Theodor Escherich, who first isolated the type species of the genus.
Species epithet: from the large intestine (colon).
Significance:  [Very important]   
Taxonomy:
Phylum
Proteobacteria
Class
Gammaproteobacteria
Order
Enterobacterales
Family
Enterobacteriaceae 
Genus
Escherichia
Type Strain: ATCC 11775 = CCUG 29300 = NCTC 9001.
Macromorphology (smell):
   
Medium sized (2-3 mm in diameter), opaque, sticky and greyish white colonies. Some strains give a narrow clear hemolysis zone on blood agar. Characteristic odor.
Micromorphology: Short motile rods (0.5 x 1-3 µm). E. coli is peritrichous, i.e. has flagella over the whole surface.
Gram +/Gram -:
 
G-
Metabolism: Facultatively anaerobic.
Catalase/Oxidase:+/-
Other Enzymes: DNase -, β-glucoronidase + (cf. Klebsiella spp.), esculinase V, ornithine decarboxylase V, tryptophanase + (= indol +), urease -.
Biochemical Tests: Citrate -, hydrogen sulphide (H2S) -, methyl red +, Voges-Proskauer -.
Fermentation of carbohydrates:
D-glucoselactosemaltoseL-rhamnosesucrose
+++(+)v
L-arabinosecellobioseD-mannitolsalicintrehalose
+-+v+
glycerolinulinraffinoseD-sorbitolstarch
(+)?v+?
Both gas and acid are formed by those carbohydrates that are fermentable. There are biochemically inactive strains, which do not ferment some of the above carbohydrates.
Microbiological tests:
Escherichia coli  
Motility test is sometimes performed to confirm suspected findings of E. coli.
Spec. Char.: Some strains of E. coli can form a polysaccharide capsule and around 80 different K antigen types have been identified, thus representing different variants of polysaccharides in the capsule.
Special Media:
Escherichia coli  Escherichia coli  Escherichia coli  
Escherichia coli  Escherichia coli  Escherichia coli  
Escherichia coli  Escherichia coli  Escherichia coli  
BG medium is used to distinguish between E. coli and Salmonella spp. Chromogenic E. coli/coliform selective agar is used for enumeration of coliform bacteria. Dip slides (e.g. UriCult) is used to analyze urine from patients with suspected urinary tract infections.

SELMA- or SELMA Plus plates are used for cultivation of milk samples when mastitis is suspected.

Disease:Different pathotypes cause various diseases (enteric, septicaemic and others).
HostsPathotypeDiseaseClinical picture
All animal species including humansUPEC, Uropathogenic E. coliUrinary Tract infection (UTI),Cystitis, Bacteriuria occurs with >100 000 CFU/ml urine and UVI if >100 000 CFU/ml and symptoms of disease. Most common bacterial cause of UTI regardless of animal species
PigsETEC (Enterotoxic E. coli),
VTEC, (Verotoxic E. coli)
ETEC
*Neonatal diarrhea
*Colisepticaemia
*Piglet meningitis
*Weanling diarrhea
*Mastitis
*Mastitis-metritis
VTEC
*Oedema disease
ETEC
*Piglets <1 week, profuse watery diarrhea, dehydration and high mortality
*Piglets, occasionallly septicaemia, death within 48h
*Acute meningitis and fibrinous polyserosit
*Pigs 2 weeks after weaning, diarrhea, anorexia and fever, mortality lower than neonatals
*Sows, one or more mammary gland affected
*Inflammation in the uterus and udder
VTEC
*Oedema in head, weaned pigs, sudden death,ataxia, convulsions and paralysis
PoultryAPEC (Avian pathogenic E. coli)Colisepticaemia, omphalitis (young chicks), airsacculitis, pneumoni, pericarditis, perihepatitis,Yolk sac infection, salpingitisSporadic disease/death or as outbreaks with sudden high mortality.
Septicaemia and infection in several different organs such as the air sacs, lungs, pericardium, salpingitis.
CattleVTEC, (Verotoxic E. coli)
Colibacillosis, "white scours"
Joint ill
Colisepticaemia
Coliform mastitis
Young calves (<1 week), fluid faeces, white pasty faeces around rectum, dehydration, high mortality
Young calves (<1 week) peracute, fever, anorexia, depression. Death due to endotoxic shock
Calves, arthritis, calves surviving colisepticaemia
Peracute, fever, anorexia, depression. Death due to endotoxic shock
SheepEPEC (Enteropathogenic E. coli)
STEC
Haemorrhagic diarrhoea
Watery mouth
Mastitis
EPEC, lamb, haemorrhagic diarrhea possibly bloody in young animals
Lamb, anorectic, saliva drools, abdominal tympany, splashing sound in abomasum, death within a day
Ewes, mastitis
DogEPEC (Enteropathogenic E. coli)Colisepticaemia (puppies)
Pyometritis (bitches)
EPEC, neonatal pups, septicaemia, often fatal
Uterine inflammation, discharge, fever, increased thirst
Horse (foals)SEPEC, (Septicaemic E. coli)
ColisepticaemiaSepticaemia, fatal pneumonia
HumansETEC (Enterotoxic E. coli)
EPEC (Enteropathogenic E. coli)
EHEC(Enteroenterohemorrhagic E. coli)
Food poisoning
ETEC, tourist diarrhea, profuse watery diarrhea
EPEC, mainly affects young children in low-income countries
EHEC, diarrhea (bloody), HUS (Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome) affect mostly children
Virulence Factors: Strains of E. coli are divided into  different pathotypes depending on their virulence factors. Some human patotypes and their virulence factors are listed below:

EPEC, enteropathogenic E. coli, type III secretion system (intimin, Tir, EspA, B, D och F) etc.
ETEC, enterotoxigenic E. coli, colonization factor antigens (CFAs), heat labile and heat stabile toxins (LT and STa, STB, respectively).
VTEC (= STEC), verotoxin producing E.coli, verotoxin.
EHEC, enterohemorragic E. coli, type III secretion system, Verotoxins (VT1 and VT2) etc.
EIEC, enteroinvasive E. coli, invasion plasmid (pINV).
EAggEC (=  EAEC), enteroaggregativ E. coli, aggregativa adhesion fimbriae (AAFs), AEAC flagellin and toxins.
UPEC, uropathogenic E. coli, adhesion factors (F1C, S, M and Dr), P fimbriae, cytotoxic necrotizing factor (CNF-1), hemolysin (HlyA), autotransported protease (Sat) and type I secretion system.
NMEC, neonatal meningitis/sepsis-associated E. coli, outer membrane proteins (OmpA, IbA, IbeB, IbeC and AsIA), cytotoxic necrotizing factor (CNF-1) and capsule (K1).

Note that Shigatoxin is used synonymously with Verotoxin and the toxins are accordingly termed Stx1 and Stx2.

Genome Sequence:
Acc-noStrainSize (bp)Genome
AC_000091 K12-W3110 4 646 332 1c + 0 
Thirty-two strains have been sequenced including NC_002695, Stam O157:H7, 5 498 450 bp. These strains have up to 5 circular plasmids.

16S rRNA Seq.:
Acc-noStrainNumber of NTOperon
X80725 (T) 1450 

Taxonomy/phylogeny:
 
Six species have been described within genus Escherichia. E. coli belongs to the family Enterobacteriaceae and is very closely related to members of the genus Shigella. In fact, E. coli and members of genus Shigella form a monophyletic cluster (see Fig. 68:14 to the left), which shows that phylogenetically, they belong to the same species. E. coli is also closely related to members of the genus Salmonella.
Legislation: E. coli, stam O157:H7, belongs to category B as a potential bioterrorism agent according to NIAID.
Comment:Type species for the genus. Most strains of E. coli are usually non-pathogenic intestinal bacteria, which belong to the normal flora, but some strains are pathogenic. Infections with verotoxin producing strains (VTEC) may be notifyable in Sweden.
Reference(s): No. 17, 40, 99, 124
Updated:2022-09-21

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