Aims: The objective of the study was to evaluate the variability of germination response of 10 strains of proteolytic Clostridium botulinum.
Methods and results: An automated turbidometric method was used to follow the fall in optical density. Spores of proteolytic Cl. botulinum germinated in response to l-alanine alone, with rate and extent of germination increased by addition of l-lactate or bicarbonate ions. Other hydrophobic amino acids also triggered germination of spores of proteolytic Cl. botulinum but not AGFK and inosine, germinants for Bacillus subtilis or B. cereus.
Conclusions: Unlike spores of nonproteolytic Cl. botulinum, all proteolytic Cl. botulinum germinate in hydrophobic l-amino acids without l-lactate. However, a great variability of response to germinant is evidenced between the species.
Significance and impact of the study: The selection of a model strain to study germination of Cl. botulinum spores should consider the variability in sensitivity to germinants shown in this work. In particular, the sequenced strain ATCC 3502 may not be the most appropriate model for germination studies.