Caption: Clostridium spore formation and developmental stages - vegetative cell (left) to mature spore forming cell with large spore (right). Clostridium spp. are Gram-positive, endospore-forming, anaerobic, rod prokaryotes that occur in many environments. In their vegetative stage they rapidly undergo division and retain their thin, rod-shaped (bacillus) appearance. When environmental conditions become less favorable for normal growth the vegetative cells will to form a spore (endospore) inside the cell. The primary function of most endospores is to ensure the survival of a bacterium through periods of environmental stress. Spores can remain viable for many years and will start to grow when more favorable growth conditions occur. Important Clostridium species include: Clostridium botulinum causes food poisoning (botulism), wound infections and infant botulism. Clostridium difficile is a spore-forming bacteria that is a normal part of the intestinal flora, especially in young children. It is the major cause of pseudomembranous colitis and antibiotic produced diarrhea. It produces 2 toxins, which cause inflammation of the intestinal wall (colitis) along with diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. It is one of the most common hospital (nosocomial) infections around the world. Clostridium sporogenes is widely distributed in nature and also in the intestines of animals. This bacterium frequently occurs in the intestines of humans and many domestic and feral animals. It can lead to gaseous gangrene in humans. Spores persist in soil and areas subject to human or animal fecal pollution.
Magnification*: x2,500
Type: SEM
Copyright 2010 Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.
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