Mycobacterium tuberculosis
Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) is a 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...

ic bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

l species in the genus Mycobacterium
Mycobacterium is a genus of Actinobacteria, given its own family, the Mycobacteriaceae. The genus includes pathogens known to cause serious diseases in mammals, including tuberculosis and leprosy...

and the causative agent of most cases of 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...

 (TB). First discovered in 1882 by Robert Koch
Robert Koch
Heinrich Hermann Robert Koch was a German physician. He became famous for isolating Bacillus anthracis , the Tuberculosis bacillus and the Vibrio cholerae and for his development of Koch's postulates....

, M. tuberculosis has an unusual, waxy coating on its cell surface (primarily mycolic acid
Mycolic acid
Mycolic acids are long fatty acids found in the cell walls of the mycolata taxon, a group of bacteria that includes Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of the disease tuberculosis. They form the major component of the cell wall of mycolata species...

), which makes the cells impervious to Gram staining, so acid-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,...

 detection techniques are used, instead. The physiology of M. tuberculosis is highly 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 requires high levels of oxygen.