Mycobacterium is a genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 of Actinobacteria
Actinobacteria are a group of Gram-positive bacteria with high guanine and cytosine content. They can be terrestrial or aquatic. Actinobacteria is one of the dominant phyla of the bacteria....

, given its own family, the Mycobacteriaceae. The genus includes pathogen
A pathogen gignomai "I give birth to") or infectious agent — colloquially, a germ — is a microbe or microorganism such as a virus, bacterium, prion, or fungus that causes disease in its animal or plant host...

s known to cause serious diseases in mammals, including tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 (Mycobacterium tuberculosis
Mycobacterium tuberculosis
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a pathogenic bacterial species in the genus Mycobacterium and the causative agent of most cases of tuberculosis . First discovered in 1882 by Robert Koch, M...

) and leprosy
Leprosy or Hansen's disease is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Named after physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen, leprosy is primarily a granulomatous disease of the peripheral nerves and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract; skin lesions...

 (Mycobacterium leprae
Mycobacterium leprae
Mycobacterium leprae, also known as Hansen’s coccus spirilly, mostly found in warm tropical countries, is a bacterium that causes leprosy . It is an intracellular, pleomorphic, acid-fast bacterium. M. leprae is an aerobic bacillus surrounded by the characteristic waxy coating unique to mycobacteria...

). The Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 prefix "myco—" means fungus, alluding to the way mycobacteria have been observed to grow in a mould-like fashion on the surface of liquids when cultured.
Mycobacteria are aerobic
Aerobic organism
An aerobic organism or aerobe is an organism that can survive and grow in an oxygenated environment.Faculitative anaerobes grow and survive in an oxygenated environment and so do aerotolerant anaerobes.-Glucose:...

 and nonmotile bacteria (except for the species Mycobacterium marinum
Mycobacterium marinum
Mycobacterium marinum is a free-living bacterium, which causes opportunistic infections in humans.- History :Although Aronson isolated this mycobacterium in 1926 from a fish, it was not until 1951 that it was found to be the cause of human disease by Linell and Norden...

, which has been shown to be motile within macrophage
Macrophages are cells produced by the differentiation of monocytes in tissues. Human macrophages are about in diameter. Monocytes and macrophages are phagocytes. Macrophages function in both non-specific defense as well as help initiate specific defense mechanisms of vertebrate animals...

s) that are characteristically acid-alcohol fast
Acid-fastness is a physical property of certain bacteria, specifically their resistance to decolorization by acids during staining procedures.Acid-fast organisms are difficult to characterize using standard microbiological techniques Acid-fastness is a physical property of certain bacteria,...