David A. Haake, X. Frank Yang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Spirochetes are ancient bacteria that comprise a major Phyla within the eubacterial kingdom. They have evolved a unique morphology and rotational motility that is effective at translocating through viscous media and tissue barriers. Directional control of flagellar motors by chemotactic sensors enables nutrient location and toxin avoidance behaviors. These skills have enabled spirochetes to be successful as free-living bacteria, as metabolic symbionts of insects, and as commensals and parasites of animals. The pathogenic spirochetes include the treponemal species that cause periodontitis and syphilis, the borrelial causes of relapsing fever and Lyme disease, and the agents of swine dysentery and leptospirosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Microbiology
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780128117378
ISBN (Print)9780128117361
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Brachyspira
  • Chemotaxis
  • Leptospira
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Relapsing fever
  • Spirochaeta
  • Syphilis
  • Treponema

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

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  • Cite this

    Haake, D. A., & Yang, X. F. (2019). Spirochetes. In Encyclopedia of Microbiology (pp. 283-298). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-801238-3.02303-5