Sphaerotilus Cultivation

Sphaerotilus cells are straight rods 0.7-2.4X3-10μm in size, arranged in chains within a single sheath of uniform width. The sheath can be attached to submerged plants, rocks, etc. with the help of an anchor. The sheath is generally thin, and not coated by iron and manganese oxides. A single cell moves through a bundle of subpolar primordial flagella. The flagella are often entangled with each other, appearing like single and large flagella. The dormancy stage is unknown. It belongs to gram negative.

The chemoheterotrophic type of Sphaerotilus is respiratory metabolism and never undergoes fermentation. In this process, molecular oxygen is the prevalent electron acceptor. Alcohols, several organic acids and sugars are used as carbon and energy sources. In the presence of vitamin B12 or methionine, inorganic nitrogen compounds (ammonium or nitrate) can be utilized as a source of nitrogen. Better growth is generally obtained with organic nitrogen sources of casamino acids, peptone or a mixture of aspartic acid, glutamic acid and vitamin B12. The bacteria can slowly liquefy gelatin.

Sphaerotilus is strictly aerobic, but grows well under low oxygen pressure. The growth temperature range is 15-37°C; the optimum temperature is between 25°C and 30°C.

The normal habitat is slow-flowing polluted clean water, or waste water from paper mills and dairy plants. A large number of cells are arranged in chains of cells, which are sheathed by a sheath, and many of these sheathed chains are firmly stuck together to form long spikes, which in turn attach to plants or rocks etc. submerged in water. Large chunks of sludge that do not settle easily may also contain many of these mycelia.

Sphaerotilus Culture Service

Creative Biogene offers customizable Sphaerotilus strain culture services. This service can help you obtain Sphaerotilus cultures for subsequent scientific research. This service allows you to skip the complicated and tedious groping of culture conditions, which helps to speed up research on this strain.

Sphaerotilus natans

Sphaerotilus natans are bacilli 0.7-2.4X3-10 microns in size. Most cells are enclosed in a sheath, arranged in chains, but sometimes swim out of the sheath. The size of cells and the presence or absence of sheaths depend on bacterial nutrition. On rich organic agar media, cells are large and sheathless, and colonies are nearly round with smooth edges. On infertile medium (0.1% glucose and peptone), cells are smaller, sheathed and colonies rough and filamentous, and mutated smooth to rough mutants may also appear.

In its normal habitat (slow-flowing sewage, bulk activated sludge), the outer sheath is thin and colorless. In uncontaminated iron-containing water, ferric hydroxide can deposit in or on the sheath, which turns yellow-brown and is occasionally coated with high iron. Therefore, planktonic Chlamydomonas behaves like iron bacteria. Although the colonies of some strains of Chlamydia plankton turned light brown after a prolonged period of growth on MnCO3-containing vegetative agar, it was unable to oxidize manganese-containing compounds.

Sphaerotilus Cultivation Figure 1. Sphaerotilus natans. (From .wikipedia.org)

Pseudobranching of the mycelium was present in every strain, but was more pronounced in some strains than in others. This depends on the culture conditions and not on the specificity of the strain.

Cells can contain large amounts of poly-β-hydroxybutyrate and form as many small globules, or a few large globules. In addition, the bacteria can also accumulate polysaccharides. A high carbon-nitrogen ratio in the medium can stimulate the synthesis of these two compounds.

Acetate, Alanine, Aspartate, Aspartic Acid, Butanol, Butyrate, Citrate, Ethanol, Fructose, Fumarate, Galactose, Glucose, Glutamine, Glutamic acid, glycerol, β-hydroxybutyrate, lactate, malate, maltose, mannitol, pyruvate, sorbitol, succinate and sucrose can be used as carbon and energy sources for the growth of Sphaerotilus natans. However, different strains differ widely in their dissimilation of the above carbonaceous compounds. Contrary to most Leptothrix strains, Sphaerotilus natans is capable of synthesizing large amounts of cellular material using relatively high concentrations of available substrates.

Why Choose Us?

The culture of Sphaerotilus requires specific formulations of growth media for use in cloning, plasmid DNA preparation, and protein expression. Creative Biogene offers a selection of bacterial growth media and custom services for your specific application. If you are interested in our microbial anaerobic and aerobic culture platform, please contact us for more details.


  1. Bergey's Manual of Systematic Bacteriology Book Review Int. J. of Syst. Bact.1985, p. 157.
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