Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Corynebacterium spp

Contributor(s): Veronica Fowler , Tammy Hassel




  • Kingdom: bacteria.
  • Phylum: actinobacteria.
  • Class: actinobacteria.
  • Order: actinomycetales.
  • Family: corynebacteriaceae.
  • Genus: corynebacterium.


  • Gr: korune - club; bakterion - staff/cane/small rod.

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Clinical Effects



  • Commensals on mucous membranes.


  • Infection is normally opportunistic resulting from compromised immunological defences.
  • Infection can also arise due to local tissue damage/trauma.
  • Mechanical transmission from insect bites is also a route of infection.

Pathological effects

  • Infection with C. bovis (20% in apparently healthy cows) results in activation of neutrophils within the mammary gland which may protect against other pathogens.
  • C. pseudotuberculosis replicates in phagocytes. Virulence is associated with its cell wall lipid and to production of exotoxin, phospholipase D.
  • C. ulcerans and C. pseudotuberculosis can produce diptheria toxin.
  • C. renale produce urease, which hydrolyses urea, causing Cystitis Cystitis.


Control via animal

  • C. pseudotuberculosis - disease control measures should be adopted for species such as goats/sheep, in which this pathogen causes frequent disease.
    • Infected animals should be culled.
    • New animals only bought from disease free countries/herds.

Control via chemotherapies

  • Antibiotic therapy (eg for C. renale) post susceptibility testing.

Control via environment

  • Protect wounds from contact with soil and farm animal excreta.


  • Vaccines are available in some countries for C. pseudotuberculosis.


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Further Reading


Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Guimarães L C, Lopes T, Ramos R T, Carneiro A R et al (2016) Draft Genome Sequences of Two Pathogenic Corynebacterial Species Isolated from Cows. J Genomics 2 (4), 7-9 PubMed.
  • Gonçalves J L, Tomazi T, Barreiro J R, Braga P A et al (2014) Identification of Corynebacterium spp. isolated from bovine intramammary infections by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry. Vet Microbiol 173 (1-2), 147-51 PubMed.
  • Bernard K (2012) The genus corynebacterium and other medically relevant coryneform-like bacteria. J Clin Microbiol 50 (10), 3152-8 PubMed.
  • Rosenbaum A, Guard C L, Njaa B L, McDonagh P L et al (2005) Slaughterhouse survey of pyelonephritis in dairy cows. Vet Rec 157 (21), 652-5 PubMed.
  • Watts J L, Lowery D E, Teel J F & Rossbach S (2000) Identification of corynebacterium
    bovis and other coryneforms isolated from bovine mammary glands.
    J Dairy Sci 83 (10), 2373-9 PubMed.
  • Hommez J, Devriese L A, Vaneechoutte M, Riegel P et al (1999) Identification of nonlipophilic corynebacteria isolated from dairy cows with mastitis. J Clin Microbiol 37 (4), 954-7 PubMed.
  • Yanagawa R (1986) Causative agents of bovine pyelonephritis: Corynebacterium renale,
    C. pilosum and C. cystitidis.
    Prog Vet Microbiol Immunol 2, 158-74 PubMed.
  • Alford, J A, Wiese, E E & Gunter, J J (1954) Heat resistance in Corynebacterium and the relationship of this genus to Microbacterium. J Bacteriol 69 (5), pp 516-518.