Borrelia burgdorferi, the cause of Lyme Disease
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Borrelia burgdorferi? - Now that's a mouthful that needs explanation!!

Species Name: Borrelia burgdorferi

Common Name: No common name. 

Like all organisms, this bacterium has been named based on the Linnaean system which organizes all living things into a hierarchical system.  The various parts of this system include (from most general to most specific): Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species.  The classification of Borrelia burgdorferi is as follows:

Domain: Bacteria

           Kingdom: Prokaryotae

                   Phylum: Spirochaetes

                         Class: "Spirochaetes"

                               Order: Spirochaetales

                                     Family: Spirochaetaceae                                                                                                                  

                                           Genus: Borrelia

                                                 Species: Borrelia burgdorferi                   

  • Borrelia burgdorferi is classified in the domain Bacteria because it's an unicellular microorganism with a cell wall made of peptidoglycan, and unique RNA polymerase (As opposed to Achaea's cell wall made of polysaccharides and RNA polymerase similar to Eukaryotes).

  • This species is listed in the kingdom Prokaryotae because it is a prokaryote organism meaning that it does not contain a nucleus and contains significantly less membrane-bond organelles. 

  • The classification within the phylum Spirochaetes and class "Spirochaetes"  indicates that this species is "Gram-negative, helically shaped, [contains] highly flexible cells motile" by a flagella located outside the plasma membrane, called a periplasmic flagella.  (Brenner, D., Krieg, N., & Staley, J., 2005 ).

  •  Borrelia burgdorferi fit into the order Spirochaetales because they are a parasitic and pathogenic species.

  • The family grouping, Spirochaetaceae, indicates that this species is anaerobic or facultatively anaerobic (meaning can adapt to live in either aerobic or anaerobic environments).

  • The genus Borrelia includes bacteria with all the above characteristics and specifies that the bacterium acts as parasites or pathogens in human and other animals (Singleton, P., & Sainsbury, D., 2006).

  • Borrelia burgdorferi is a species that is known to cause Lyme Disease.       




These organisms respresent the species that are very similarly related to Borrelia burgdorferi.  All of these organisms are found in the genus Borrelia and are distinct from one another in the symptoms that they cause.  For example, Borrelia hermsii and Borrelia parkeri cause a relapsing fever whereas Borrelia garinii is responsible for causing neurological problems associated with Lyme disease. Additionally these strains are found in different areas of the world (Ginsberg, H., 1993).