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Pronunciation: pro'te-us


  1. A former genus of the Sarcodina, now termed Amoeba.
  2. A genus of motile, peritrichous, non-spore-forming, aerobic to facultatively anaerobic bacteria (family Enterobacteriaceae) containing gram-negative rods; coccoid forms, large irregular involution forms, filaments, and spheroplasts occur under different culture conditions. The metabolism is fermentative, producing acid or acid and visible gas from glucose; lactose is not fermented, and they rapidly decompose urea and deaminate phenylalanine. Proteus occurs primarily in fecal matter and in putrefying materials. The type species is Proteus vulgaris.

[G. Proteus, a sea god, who had the power to change his form]

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© Copyright 2018 Wolters Kluwer. All Rights Reserved. Review date: Sep 19, 2016.