Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a kind of bacteria. It belongs to the Mollicutes class and is commonly associated with causing mycoplasma pneumonia. Although several bacterial species are known to cause pneumonia, this bacteria causes a unique form with its own characteristics.
Although Mycoplama pneumoniae is a prokaryotic organism, meaning that it lacks a membrane bound nucleus, it has some of the features of a eukaryotic cell. This bacteria does not have a peptidoglycan cell wall and instead has a cell membrane with sterol compounds. The sterol compounds help the cell membrane to maintain its structure. Since the cell wall is a common target of antimicrobial drugs, this bacteria is particularly resistant to common antibiotics. The uniqueness of the bacteria does, however, make it much easier to isolate and identify.
Another interesting fact about Mycoplasma pneumoniae is that has to function as a parasite. Being one of the smallest organisms, it lacks the genome of a regular bacteria which have a much larger genome capable of coding for all biological functions needed for the cell to survive. This bacteria cannot make its own energy and has to rely on other organisms to survive. Because of this, it is termed an obligate intracellular parasite. This term usually refers to viruses which can also not replicate without a host, but this bacteria has to live inside of another cell in order to survive.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae causes a form of pneumonia. It is spread through respiratory droplets from an infected host to a new host’s lungs. After gaining access to the mucosa of the lungs, the bacteria grows and replicates. As the bacteria spreads, the human host suffers complications such as pharyngitis and pneumonia. Unlike other forms of pneumonia where the host is congested and coughing up mucus from the lungs, Mycoplasma pneumoniae causes a milder form of pneumonia which will cause the infected host discomfort and trouble breathing. Some infected do not go to see a doctor and become chronic carriers of the disease.
For those who do seek medical attention, there are some antibiotics that can be used. Diagnosis can be difficult due to a lack of typical symptoms and often a culture will have to be taken. Identifying the bacteria can take several days, although the wait is typically not dangerous to the patient.