Analysis of the properties of spores of Bacillus subtilis prepared at different temperatures

J Appl Microbiol. 2002;92(6):1105-15. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2672.2002.01644.x.


Aims: To determine the effect of sporulation temperature on Bacillus subtilis spore resistance and spore composition.

Methods and results: Bacillus subtilis spores prepared at temperatures from 22 to 48 degrees C had identical amounts of dipicolinic acid and small, acid-soluble proteins but the core water content was lower in spores prepared at higher temperatures. As expected from this latter finding, spores prepared at higher temperatures were more resistant to wet heat than were spores prepared at lower temperatures. Spores prepared at higher temperatures were also more resistant to hydrogen peroxide, Betadine, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde and a superoxidized water, Sterilox. However, spores prepared at high and low temperatures exhibited nearly identical resistance to u.v. radiation and dry heat. The cortex peptidoglycan in spores prepared at different temperatures showed very little difference in structure with only a small, albeit significant, increase in the percentage of muramic acid with a crosslink in spores prepared at higher temperatures. In contrast, there were readily detectable differences in the levels of coat proteins in spores prepared at different temperatures and the levels of at least one coat protein, CotA, fell significantly as the sporulation temperature increased. However, this latter change was not due to a reduction in cotA gene expression at higher temperatures.

Conclusions: The temperature of sporulation affects a number of spore properties, including resistance to many different stress factors, and also results in significant alterations in the spore coat and cortex composition.

Significance and impact of the study: The precise conditions for the formation of B. subtilis spores have a large effect on many spore properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / growth & development*
  • Chelating Agents / pharmacology
  • Disinfectants / pharmacology
  • Formaldehyde / pharmacology
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology
  • Oxidants / pharmacology
  • Picolinic Acids / pharmacology
  • Solubility
  • Spores, Bacterial / drug effects
  • Spores, Bacterial / growth & development*
  • Spores, Bacterial / physiology
  • Temperature
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Chelating Agents
  • Disinfectants
  • Oxidants
  • Picolinic Acids
  • Formaldehyde
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • dipicolinic acid