Borrelia burgdorferi, the cause of Lyme Disease
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Borrelia burgdorferi - a small organism that causes big problems!

"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." - Mark Twain

Borrelia burgdorferi proves this quote true; it may be a microscopic organism, but it definitely puts up a fight.   B. burgdorferi is a spiral shaped  gram-negative bacteria that possesses an uniqueness in its ability to penetrate the tissue of other organisms.  Its motile success is due to its extraordinary flagella. Its ability to survive in a variety of environments is correlated with its linear, rather than circular, chromosomes.  The bacterium is generally 20-30 Ám in length and 0.2-0.5 Ám in width. B. burgdorferi is transmitted into humans through ticks and is responsible for causing Lyme disease.  This bacteria depicts advanced modifications that contribute to enhancing its fitness. The magnitude of success that this microscopic organism has attained is truly remarkable. 

This dark field microscopic image of Borrelia burgdorferi exhibits the extreme spiral shape of the organism.

Why Borrelia burgdorferi??

When asked to pick any random organism in the world, some may wonder why I choose Borrelia burgdorferi.  While my classmates were selecting various organism from what Thomas Volk would call the "charismatic megafauna," I decided to challenge myself by somewhat randomly choosing an infectious bacteria.  No, I never had Lyme disease myself so I can't say that's why I pick this organism.  I simply  wanted to select an organism that had  obvious relevance to the human population and found myself stumbling upon Borrelia burgdorferi.  The bacterium proved to exceed my expectations in its uniqueness and ability to adapt.  Overall, I choose Borrelia burgdorferi to gain a better understanding about something that I previously had no knowledge of. 





Questions or comments contact Kaitlyn Joyce at

Last Updated April 27,2007