A genus of gram-negative rods belonging to the family Enterobacteriaceae. They are found in intestines and decaying material, causing protein decomposition. They may also cause disease, particularly infections of the urinary tract.
The bacillus was named for the Greek sea god Proteus because it is pleomorphic and appears in many different sizes and shapes. Proteus had the power to change his form at will and frequently assumed all manner of shapes and forms so as to avoid capture. It was discovered by Gustav Hauser (1856-1935) who in 1885 isolated Proteus vulgaris.
Proteus mirabilis. Species abundant in nature but only rarely is it a human pathogen.
Proteus morgagni. Species that may cause urinary tract infections and acute enteritis.
Proteus vulgaris. Morganella. An essentially saprophytic species that may produce urinary tract infections.
- G. Hauser:
Ueber Fäulnissbacterien. Leipzig, F. C. Vogel, 1885.