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The Firmicutes (Latin: firmus, strong, and cutis, skin, referring to the cell wall) are a phylum of bacteria, most of which have Gram-positive cell wall structure. A few however, such as Megasphaera, Pectinatus, Selenomonas, and Zymophilus, have a porous pseudo-outer-membrane that causes them to stain Gram-negative. Scientists once classified the Firmicutes to include all Gram-positive bacteria, but have recently defined them to be of a core group of related forms called the low-G+C group, in contrast to the Actinobacteria. They have round cells, called cocci (singular coccus), or rod-shaped forms.

Many Firmicutes produce endospores, which are resistant to desiccation and can survive extreme conditions. They are found in various environments, and the group includes some notable pathogens. Those in one family, the heliobacteria, produce energy through photosynthesis. Firmicutes play an important role in beer, wine, and cider spoilage.


ClassesEdit

The group is typically divided into the Clostridia, which are anaerobic, the Bacilli, which are obligate or facultative aerobes, and the Mollicutes.

On phylogenetic trees, the first two groups show up as paraphyletic or polyphyletic, as do their main genera, Clostridium and Bacillus.

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