Causative Agent

Mycobacterium leprae (figure 26.10) is identical in appearance to M. tuberculosis. It is aerobic, acid-fast, rod-shaped, and typically stains in a beaded manner. Despite many attempts, M. leprae has not been grown in the absence of living cells. In the 1960s, it was successfully cultivated to a limited degree in the footpads of laboratory mice, and in 1971, in a major advance, Dr. Eleanor E. Storrs and colleagues demonstrated that the organisms can be grown in armadillos (figure 26.11). Later, mangabey monkeys were also found to be susceptible. Mycobacterium leprae grows very slowly, with a generation time of about 12 days. A clone bank of the genome of M. leprae has been made in E. coli, thus making large quantities of the organism's antigens available for study. ■ acid-fast stain, p. 47 ■ Mycobacterium, p. 281 ■ cloning, pp. 220,230

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