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For the computing tool, see Yersinia (computing).
Yersinia pestis.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Bacteria
Phylum: Proteobacteria
Class: Gammaproteobacteria
Order: Enterobacteriales
Family: Enterobacteriaceae
Genus: Yersinia
van Loghem, 1944

Yersinia is a genus of bacteria in the family Enterobacteriaceae. Yersinia species are Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria, a few micrometers long and fractions of a micrometer in diameter, and are facultative anaerobes.[1] Some members of Yersinia are pathogenic in humans; in particular, Y. pestis is the causative agent of the plague. Rodents are the natural reservoirs of Yersinia; less frequently, other mammals serve as the host. Infection may occur either through blood (in the case of Y. pestis) or in an alimentary fashion, occasionally via consumption of food products (especially vegetables, milk-derived products, and meat) contaminated with infected urine or feces.

Speculations exist as to whether or not certain Yersinia can also be spread by protozoonotic mechanisms, since Yersinia species are known to be facultative intracellular parasites; studies and discussions of the possibility of amoeba-vectored (through the cyst form of the protozoan) Yersinia propagation and proliferation are now in progress.[2]

Microbial physiology[edit]

An interesting feature peculiar to some of the Yersinia bacteria is the ability to not only survive, but also to actively proliferate at temperatures as low as 1-4°C (e.g., on cut salads and other food products in a refrigerator). Yersinia bacteria are relatively quickly inactivated by oxidizing agents such as hydrogen peroxide and potassium permanganate solutions.



The creation of YersiniaBase, a data and tools collection for the reporting and comparison of Yersinia species genome sequence data, was reported in January 2015.[3] The provisional representation of species addressed by the resource has been indicated in the TaxBox on this page by a superscript 'yb' beside the species name.[3] Development of YersiniaBase was funded by the University of Malaya and the Ministry of Education, Malaysia.[3]


Y. pestis is the causative agent of plague. The disease caused by Y. enterocolitica is called yersiniosis.

Yersinia may be associated with Crohn's disease, an inflammatory autoimmune condition of the gut. Iranian sufferers of Crohn's disease were more likely to have had earlier exposure to refrigerators at home,[4] consistent with its unusual ability to thrive at low temperatures.

Yersinia is implicated as one of the causes of reactive arthritis worldwide.[5]

Also, the genus is associated with pseudoappendicitis, which is an incorrect diagnosis of appendicitis due to a similar presentation.[6]


For other genera named after people, see List of bacterial genera named after personal names.

Y. pestis, the first known species, was identified in 1894[7] by A.E.J. Yersin, a Swiss bacteriologist, and Kitasato Shibasaburō, a Japanese bacteriologist.[8] It was formerly described as Pasteurella pestis (known trivially as the plague-bacillus) by Lehmann and Neumann in 1896.[8][9] In 1944, van Loghem reclassified the species P. pestis and P. rondentium into a new genus, Yersinia.[8][9] Following the introduction of the bacteriological code, it was accepted as valid in 1980.[9]


The most effective treatment is a combination of streptomycin and tetracycline, especially when treatment with one of these antibiotics singly has failed.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Ryan KJ; Ray CG (editors) (2004). Sherris Medical Microbiology (4th ed.). McGraw Hill. pp. 368–70. ISBN 0-8385-8529-9. 
  2. ^ Bichai, F.; Payment, P.; Barbeau, B. (2008). "Protection of waterborne pathogens by higher organisms in drinking water: a review". Can. J. Microbiol. 54 (7): 509–524. doi:10.1139/W08-039. PMID 18641697. 
  3. ^ a b c Tan, Shi Yang; Dutta, Avirup; Jakubovics, Nick S.; et al. (16 January 2015). "YersiniaBase: a genomic resource and analysis platform for comparative analysis of Yersinia". BMC Bioinformatics. doi:10.1186/s12859-014-0422-y. open access publication - free to read
  4. ^ Malekzadeh, F.; Alberti, C.; Nouraei, M.; Vahedi, H.; Zaccaria, I.; Meinzer, U.; Nasseri-Moghaddam, S.; Sotoudehmanesh, R.; Momenzadeh, S.; Khaleghnejad, R.; Rashtak, S.; Olfati, G.; Malekzadeh, R.; Hugot, J. P. (2009). Timmer, Antje, ed. "Crohn's disease and early exposure to domestic refrigeration" (Free full text). PLoS ONE 4 (1): e4288. Bibcode:2009PLoSO...4.4288M. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004288. PMC 2629547. PMID 19177167. 
  5. ^ Nikkari, S.; Merilahti-Palo, R.; Saario, R.; Söderstrom, K. O.; Granfors, K.; Skurnik, M.; Toivanen, P. (1992). "Yersinia-triggered reactive arthritis. use of polymerase chain reaction and immunocytochemical staining in the detection of bacterial components from synovial specimens". Arthritis & Rheumatism 35 (6): 682–687. doi:10.1002/art.1780350613. 
  6. ^ "EMedicine". Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  7. ^ Rebecca Maki from University of Pittsburghby. "Discovery of Yersinia pestis". 
  8. ^ a b c Loghem, J. J. (1944). "The classification of the plague-bacillus". Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 10 (1–2): 15–16. doi:10.1007/BF02272779. PMID 20990853. 
  9. ^ a b c Yersinia entry in LPSN [Euzéby, J.P. (1997). "List of Bacterial Names with Standing in Nomenclature: a folder available on the Internet". Int J Syst Bacteriol 47 (2): 590–2. doi:10.1099/00207713-47-2-590. ISSN 0020-7713. PMID 9103655. ]

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