Bordetella pertussis

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This page is about microbiologic aspects of the organism(s).  For clinical aspects of the disease, see Pertussis.

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: João André Alves Silva, M.D. [2]; Yazan Daaboul, M.D.; Serge Korjian M.D.


Bordetella pertussis is a Gram-negative, aerobic, non-motile, non-spore-forming coccobacillus. It is the pathogen responsible for pertussis (whooping cough). Unlike B. bronchiseptica, B. pertussis is not motile. Humans are the only known reservoir for B. pertussis. The lipopolysaccharide-containing outer membrane of B. pertussis is unique and contains a different phosphate composition from other bacterial outer membranes.

Bodetella pertussis

Higher Order Taxa

  • Kingdom: Bacteria
  • Phylum: Proteobacteria
  • Class: Betaproteobacteria
  • Order: Burkholderiales
  • Family: Alcaligenaceae
  • Genus: Bordetella
  • Species: B. pertussis


  • The genome of B. pertussis consists of 1 circular chromosome and plasmids.
  • The circular chromosome contains 3867 genes and 4,086,189 nucleotides.[1]
  • The IncP-1 beta plasmid pBP136 carries 46 ORFs and contains 41,268 bp nucleotides.[1]


  • B. pertussis is a Gram-negative, aerobic, non-spore forming coccobacillus.
  • Compared with Bordetella bronchiseptica, B. pertussis is non-motile.
  • It contains an outer membrane, an inner membrane, and a periplasmic space between the 2 membranes.[2]
  • The rough lipopolysaccharide on the outer membrane (also called lipooligosaccharide) contains a phosphate composition (containing lipid X) that is different from other bacterial lipopolysaccharides (containing lipid A). The B. pertussis outer membrane is thus a distinguishing feature of B. pertussis.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Kamachi K, Sota M, Tamai Y, Nagata N, Konda T, Inoue T; et al. (2006). "Plasmid pBP136 from Bordetella pertussis represents an ancestral form of IncP-1beta plasmids without accessory mobile elements". Microbiology. 152 (Pt 12): 3477–84. doi:10.1099/mic.0.29056-0. PMID 17159199.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Harvill ET, Preston A, Cotter PA, Allen AG, Maskell DJ, Miller JF (2000). "Multiple roles for Bordetella lipopolysaccharide molecules during respiratory tract infection". Infect Immun. 68 (12): 6720–8. PMC 97772. PMID 11083787.