Clostridium(redirected from C. difficile)
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A genus of bacteria comprising large anaerobic spore-forming rods that usually stain gram-positive. Most species are anaerobes, but a few will grow minimally in air at atmospheric pressure.
The clostridia are widely distributed in nature, and are present in the soil and in the intestinal tracts of humans and animals. They usually live a saprophytic existence, and play a major role in the degradation of organic material in the soil and other nature environments. A number of clostridia release potent exotoxins and are pathogenic for humans and animals. Among the human pathogens are the causative agents of botulism (Clostridium botulinum), tetanus (C. tetani), gas gangrene (C. perfringens), and an antibiotic-associated enterocolitis (C. difficile). See Anaerobic infection, Botulism, Toxin
Clostridial cells are straight or slightly curved rods, 0.3–1.6 micrometers wide and 1–14 μm long. They may occur singly, in pairs, in short or long chains, or in helical coils. The length of the cells of the individual species varies according to the stage of growth and growth conditions. Most clostridia are motile with a uniform arrangement of flagella. See Cilia and flagella
The endospores produced by clostridia are dormant structures capable of surviving for prolonged periods of time, and have the ability to reestablish vegetative growth when appropriate environmental conditions are provided. The spores of clostridia are oval or spherical and are wider than the vegetative bacterial cell. Among the distinctive forms are spindle-shaped organisms, club-shaped forms, and tennis racket-shaped structures:
Clostridia are obligate anaerobes: they are unable to use molecular oxygen as a final electron acceptor and generate their energy solely by fermentation. Clostridia exhibit varying degrees of intolerance of oxygen. Some species are sensitive to oxygen concentrations as low as 0.5%, but most species can tolerate concentrations of 3–5%. The sensitivity of clostridia to oxygen restricts their habitat to anaerobic environments; habitats that contain large amounts of organic matter provide optimal conditions for their growth and survival.
A primary property of all species of Clostridium is their inability to carry out a dissimilatory reduction of sulfate. Most species are chemoorganotrophic. The substrate spectrum for the genus as a whole is very broad and includes a wide range of naturally occurring compounds. Extracellular enzymes are secreted by many species, enabling the organism to utilize a wide variety of complex natural substrates in the environment.
a genus of spore-bearing bacteria, first described in 1880 by the Polish microbiologist A. Prazmowski. The genus Clostridium includes all bacteria whose cells swell at the center during the process of sporulation and take on a spindle shape. Most of the bacteria in the group are anaerobes and are capable of fermenting various hydrocarbons. Included in the genus are the causative agents of acetobutylic fermentation, retting, tetanus, botulism, and gas gangrene.