Arrangement of cocci bacteria.svg
Staphylococcus bacteria

Coccus (plural cocci) can be used to describe any bacterium that has a spherical shape. It is one of the three distinct types of bacteria shapes, the other two being bacillus (rod-shaped) and spirillum (spiral-shaped) cells. Coccus is an English loanword of a Neolatin noun, which in turn stems from the Greek masculine noun kokkos (κόκκος) meaning "berry".[1]

The term 'coccus' is used in botany to denote a mericarp or 1-seeded segment of a schizocarp.


Like all bacteria, each single coccus bacterium is an entire living organism. However, some species exist in groups of cells. If they do group together [2], the patterns they arrange themselves in are given certain names based on the shape. Diplococci are arranged in two-cell pairs; these may represent several different genera. Bacteria in the Streptococcus genus are arranged in chains. Bacteria in the Sarcina genus typically form a cuboidal arrangement of eight cells. Staphylococcus is a genus of bacteria characterized by cells arranged in tetrad clusters (four cells in a square formation) or large, often irregular, clusters. While groups of cells together form these characteristic shapes, the individual bacterial cells themselves will appear as distinct circles within the chain or cluster.


  1. ^ κόκκος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at Perseus Project
  2. ^ Councilman, William Thomas. Disease and Its Causes. Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 

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  • coccus — [ kɔkys ] n. m. • 1896; bot. 1752; lat. coccum « grain », du gr. ♦ Microbiol. Bactérie sphérique. Des coccus ou des cocci. ● coccus, cocci nom masculin (latin coccum, grain, du grec kokkos) Bactérie de forme arrondie ou ovalaire. ⇒COCCUS, subst.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Coccus — Coc cus, n.; pl. {Cocci}. [NL., fr. Gr. ? grain, seed. See {Cochineal}.] 1. (Bot.) One of the separable carpels of a dry fruit. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) A genus of hemipterous insects, including scale insects, and the cochineal insect… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Coccus — Coccus, Gattung der Halbdeckflügler od. Schnabelkerfe, s. Schildlaus. Daher Coccusroth, der rothe Farbestoff der Coccus Arten, so v. w. Karmin, s.d …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • -coccus — [käk′əs] combining form forming nouns coccus: used in names of various bacteria [gonococcus] …   English World dictionary

  • Coccus [1] — Coccus, soviel wie Micrococcus …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Coccus [2] — Coccus, Schildlaus; Coccidae, Schildläuse; Familie aus der Ordnung der Halbflügler; s. Schildläuse …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Coccus — Coccus, s. Schildläuse …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • coccus — COCCUS. Voyez Kermès …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • Coccus — vgl. Kokke …   Das Wörterbuch medizinischer Fachausdrücke

  • coccus — 1763 as an insect genus (including the COCHINEAL (Cf. cochineal) bug); 1883 as a type of bacterium, from Gk. kokkos grain, seed, berry …   Etymology dictionary

  • coccus — ► NOUN (pl. cocci) Biology ▪ any spherical or roughly spherical bacterium. DERIVATIVES coccal adjective coccoid adjective. ORIGIN originally denoting a scale insect: from Greek kokkos berry …   English terms dictionary

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