M. abscessus subsp. bolletii broth culture
Subsp. abscessus
Subsp. bolletii
Subsp. massiliense
Mycobacterium abscessus
Cultural characteristics
Biochemical characters
Phylum Actinobacteria, Class Actinobacteria, Order Actinomycetales, Suborder Corynebacterineae, Family Mycobacteriaceae, Genus
Mycobacterium abscessus (Moore and Frerichs 1953) Kusunoki and Ezaki 1992.

Mycobacterium chelonei subsp. abscessus (sic) (Moore and Frerichs 1953) Kubica et al. 1972, Mycobacterium chelonae
subsp. abscessus
corrig. (Moore and Frerichs 1953) Kubica et al. 1972, Mycobacterium bolletii Adekambi et al. 2006, Mycobacterium
Adekambi et al. 2006.

3 subspecies:
M. abscessus subsp. abscessus (Moore and Frerichs 1953) Leao et al. 2011,
M. abscessus subsp. bolletii (Adekambi et al. 2006) Leao et al. 2011,
M. abscessus subsp. massiliense (Adekambi et al. 2006) Tortol et al. 2016.
Acid-fast rods (1.0-2.5 x 0.5 μm). Gram-positive staining. Nonmotile. Asporogenous.
M. abscessus
can form true cords.
All subspecies are nonchromogenic and grows at 24, 30 and 37 ºC, but not at 42 ºC.

Subsp. abscessus: colonies on egg medium appear in 7 d,ays are intermediate
between smooth and rough, and are white to gray in color. The temperature range for
growth is 24-37 ºC. On MacConkey agar and on media containing 5% (w/v) NaCl,
growth occurs at 28 ºC and at 37 ºC.

Subsp. bolletii: colonies appear on 5% sheep blood agar, Middlebrook 7H10 agar
and egg-based Lowenstein-Jensen slants in 2-5 days at temperatures between 24
and 37 ºC, optimally at 30 ºC. No growth in 5% NaCl.

Subsp. massiliense: strictly aerobic. Colonies on 5% (v/v) sheep blood agar are
intermediate between smooth and rough. Growth occurs after incubation for 2-4 days
on 5% (v/v) sheep blood and Middlebrook 7H10 agars, and on Lowenstein-Jensen
medium. The temperature range for growth is 24-37 ºC; optimal growth at 30 ºC.
Growth occurs on MacConkey agar and on Lowenstein-Jensen medium
supplemented with 5% (w/v) NaCl.
Subsp. abscessus: isolated from the synovium of the knee and associated gluteal
abscesses of a patient. Also found in soil. Resistant to hydroxylamine (500 μg/ml),  
ethambutol (5 μg/ml),  rifampin (25 μg/ml), isoniazid and streptomycin.
Subsp. bolletii: isolated from  from sputum.  Resistant to clarithromycin.
Subsp. massiliense: isolated in pure culture from the sputum and the bronchoalveolar
fluid of a patient with hemoptoic pneumonia.
Subsp. abscessus: causes wound and soft tissue infections.
Subsp. bolletii: associated with chronic pneumonia.
Subsp. massiliense: isolated from a patient with hemoptoic pneumonia
(expectoration of blood).
  1. John G. Magee and Alan C. Ward 2012. Family III. Mycobacteriaceae Chester 1897, 63AL in Bergey’s Manual of Systematic
    Bacteriology, Volume Five The Actinobacteria, Part A, Michael Goodfellow & al. (editors), 312-375.
  2. Moore M, Frerichs JB. An unusual acid-fast infection of the knee with subcutaneous, abscess-like lesions of the gluteal region;
    report of a case with a study of the organism, Mycobacterium abscessus, n. sp. J Invest Dermatol 1953; 20:133-169.
  3. Tortoli E, Kohl TA, Brown-Elliott BA, Trovato A, Leao SC, Garcia MJ, Vasireddy S, Turenne CY, Griffith DE, Philley JV, et al. 2016.
    Emended description of Mycobacterium abscessus, Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. abscessus and Mycobacterium abscessus
    subsp. bolletii and designation of Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. massiliense comb. nov. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 2016; 66:
  4. Tortoli E. Impact of genotypic studies on mycobacterial taxonomy: the new mycobacteria of the 1990s. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2003;16
    (2):319‐354. doi:10.1128/cmr.16.2.319-354.2003
  5. Adekambi T, Berger P, Raoult D, Drancourt M. rpoB gene sequence-based characterization of emerging non-tuberculous
    mycobacteria with descriptions of Mycobacterium bolletii sp. nov., Mycobacterium phocaicum sp. nov. and Mycobacterium
    aubagnense sp. nov. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 2006; 56:133-143.
  6. Adekambi T, Reynaud-Gaubert M, Greub G, Gevaudan MJ, La Scola B, Raoult D, Drancourt M. Amoebal coculture of
    "Mycobacterium massiliense" sp. nov. from the sputum of a patient with hemoptoic pneumonia. J Clin Microbiol 2004; 42:5493-
  7. Sompolinsky D, Lagziel A, Naveh D, Yankilevitz L. M. haemophilum sp. nov., a new pathogen of humans. International Journal of
    Systematic Bacteriology 1978; 28:67-75.
  8. Alejandro Sanchez-Chardi, Francesc Olivares, Thomas F. Byrd, Esther Julian, Cecilia Brambilla, Marina Luquin. Demonstration of
    Cord Formation by Rough Mycobacterium abscessus Variants: Implications for the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory. Journal of
    Clinical Microbiology May 2011, 49 (6) 2293-2295; DOI: 10.1128/JCM.02322-10.
  9. H. Saito, R. E. Gordon, I. Juhlin, W. Käppler, J. B. G. Kwapinski, C. McDurmont, S. R. Pattyn, E. H. Runyon, J. L. Stanford, I. Tarnok,
    H. Tasaka, M. Tsukamura And J. Weiszfeiler 1977. Cooperative Numerical Analysis of Rapidly Growing Mycobacteria. The Second
    Report. International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology, Apr.1977, p. 75-85.
  10. Tsukamura M. Numerical analysis of rapidly growing, nonphotochromogenic mycobacteria, including Mycobacterium agri
    (Tsukamura 1972) Tsukamura sp. nov., nom. rev. Int. J. Syst. Bacteriol. 1981; 31:247-258.
  11. Nogueira CL, Whipps CM, Matsumoto CK, Chimara E, Droz S, Tortoli E, de Freitas D, Cnockaert M, Palomino JC, Martin A, et al.
    Mycobacterium saopaulense sp. nov., a rapidly growing mycobacterium closely related to members of the Mycobacterium
    chelonae--Mycobacterium abscessus group. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 2015; 65:4403-4409.
Positive results for acetoin production, alkaline phosphatase, arylsulfatase (3 and 7 days), catalase, esculin hydrolysis,
pyrazinamidase, pyrrolidonyl arylamidase, and Tween 80 hydrolysis.

Negative results for arginine dihydrolase, iron uptake, lysine decarboxylase, nitrate reduction, and ornithine decarboxylase.
No utilization of citrate as sole carbon source. No iron uptake.

Subsp. abscessus:
Positive results for alpha-glucosidase, semiquantitative catalase test, beta-esterase, gelatinase, beta-glucuronidase, succinate
utilization, N-acetyl-beta-glucosaminidase, H
2S production, indole production, tellurite reduction, and urease.
Negative results for acid phosphatase, beta-galactosidase, niacin production, tryptophan desaminase, and Tween 80 hydrolysis.
Variable results for alpha-esterase.

Subsp. bolletii:
Negative results for alpha-glucosidase, beta-galactosidase, N-acetyl-beta-glucosaminidase, gelatinase, H2S production, indole
production,  tryptophan desaminase, beta-glucuronidase, and urease.
No utilization as sole carbon source of sorbitol or mannitol.
Positive for catalse and thermostable catalase (admin note).

Subsp. massiliense:
Positive results for semiquantitative catalase test, alpha-glucosidase, beta-galactosidase, beta-glucuronidase, and gelatinase.
Negative results for N-acetyl-beta-glucosaminidase, indole production, and urease.
(c) Costin Stoica
Culture media
Biochemical tests
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Legend: +,90% or more of strains are positive; − 90% or more of strains are negative.