Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

BMC Genomics




Originally published at

Date of Submission

August 2014



Bacteria of the genus Sneathia are emerging as potential pathogens of the female reproductive tract. Species of Sneathia, which were formerly grouped with Leptotrichia, can be part of the normal microbiota of the genitourinary tracts of men and women, but they are also associated with a variety of clinical conditions including bacterial vaginosis, preeclampsia, preterm labor, spontaneous abortion, post-partum bacteremia and other invasive infections. Sneathia species also exhibit a significant correlation with sexually transmitted diseases and cervical cancer. BecauseSneathia species are fastidious and rarely cultured successfully in vitro; and the genomes of members of the genus had until now not been characterized, very little is known about the physiology or the virulence of these organisms.


Here, we describe a novel species, Sneathia amnii sp. nov, which closely resembles bacteria previously designated "Leptotrichia amnionii". As part of the Vaginal Human Microbiome Project at VCU, a vaginal isolate of S. amnii sp. nov. was identified, successfully cultured and bacteriologically cloned. The biochemical characteristics and virulence properties of the organism were examined in vitro, and the genome of the organism was sequenced, annotated and analyzed. The analysis revealed a reduced circular genome of ~1.34 Mbp, containing ~1,282 protein-coding genes. Metabolic reconstruction of the bacterium reflected its biochemical phenotype, and several genes potentially associated with pathogenicity were identified.


Bacteria with complex growth requirements frequently remain poorly characterized and, as a consequence, their roles in health and disease are unclear. Elucidation of the physiology and identification of genes putatively involved in the metabolism and virulence of S. amnii may lead to a better understanding of the role of this potential pathogen in bacterial vaginosis, preterm birth, and other issues associated with vaginal and reproductive health.


© 2012 Harwich et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Is Part Of

VCU Microbiology and Immunology Publications

1471-2164-13-s8-s4-s1.pdf (232 kB)
Supplementary figure S1 - Multiple sequence alignment of 16S rDNA from S. amnii and related organisms. Alignment of 16S rDNA sequences of S. amnii and representative strains belonging to seven representants of the Fusobacteriaceae family: Sneathia, Streptobacillus, Leptotrichia, Sebaldella, Propionigenium, Ilyobacter, and Fusobacterium.

1471-2164-13-s8-s4-s2.pdf (22 kB)
Supplementary table 1 - Fraction of genes associated with specific COG functional groups in each species.

1471-2164-13-s8-s4-s3.pdf (2528 kB)
Supplementary table 2 - In silico reconstruction of the metabolic pathways of S. amnii, S. moniliformis, L. buccalis and S. termiditis.