Volume 17, Number 9—September 2011
Etymologia: Mycobacterium chelonae
From the Greek mycēs, fungus, baktērion, little rod, and chelōnē, turtle. German researcher Friedrich Freidmann reported isolation of this pathogen from the lung tissues of sea turtles (Chelona corticata) in 1903, referring to it as the turtle tubercle bacillus. In 1920, the Society of American Bacteriologists recommended that the organism be named after its discoverer, or Mycobacterium friedmannii. Bergey et al., however, chose in 1923 to instead recognize the host animal in the first edition of Bergey’s Manual of Determinative Bacteriology and listed the bacterium as Mycobacterium chelonei. The spelling was changed in the 1980s to chelonae to make it consistent with general use.
Sources: Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 31st ed. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2007; Grange JM. Mycobacterium chenolei. Tubercle. 1981;62:273–6.PubMed; Topley & Wilson’s Microbiology and Microbial Infections. Bacteriology, 10th ed., Vol. 2. London: Hodder Arnold; 2005.