Aims: To characterise a strain of Gram negative aerobic straight or slightly curved rods (HKU3) isolated from the blood culture of a 9 year old Chinese boy with neutropenic fever and pseudobacteraemia.
Methods: The isolate was phenotypically investigated by standard biochemical methods using conventional biochemical tests, scanning electron microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy. Genotypically, the 16S rRNA gene of the bacterium was amplified by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequenced. The sequence of the PCR product was compared with known 16S rRNA gene sequences in the Genbank by multiple sequence alignment. The G + C content was determined by thermal denaturation. A phylogenetic tree was constructed by the PileUp method.
Results: The cells of the bacterial strain were aerobic, sporulating, Gram negative straight or slight curved rods. The bacterium grew on horse blood agar as non-haemolytic, grey colonies of 1 mm in diameter after 24 hours of incubation at 37°C in ambient air. No enhancement of growth was seen in 5% CO2. It grew at 50°C as pinpoint colonies after 72 hours of incubation, but did not grow at 65°C or on MacConkey agar. It was non-motile. It produced catalase (weakly positive) and cytochrome oxidase. It reduced nitrate, produced β galactosidase, hydrolysed esculin, and utilised sodium acetate. A scanning electron micrograph of the bacterium showed straight or slightly curved rods. A transmission electron micrograph of the cell wall of the bacterium revealed multiple electron dense layers, including the outer membrane, middle murein layer, and inner cytoplasmic membrane, compatible with its Gram smear appearance. 16S rRNA gene sequencing showed that there were 7.7%, 8.0%, 8.2%, and 8.6% differences between the 16S rRNA gene sequence of the bacterium and those of Paenibacillus macerans, Paenibacillus borealis, Bacillus ehimensis, and Paenibacillus amylolyticus, respectively. The mean (SD) G + C content of the bacterium was 47.6 (2.1) mol%. Phylogenetically, it belongs to the genus paenibacillus (previously called group 3 bacillus).
Conclusions: A bacterium that exhibited phenotypic and genotypic characteristics that are very different from closely related members of paenibacillus was the cause of pseudobacteraemia in a patient with neutropenic fever. A new species, Paenibacillus hongkongensis sp. nov. is proposed, for which HKU3 is the type strain.