Clostridium clostridioforme: a mixture of three clinically important species

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2005 May;24(5):319-24. doi: 10.1007/s10096-005-1334-6.


Clostridium clostridioforme shows much variability in phenotypic and antimicrobial susceptibility tests, suggesting it may be more than a single species even though all strains share unique morphology. This study was designed to determine if there are multiple species and, if so, to demonstrate the differences that exist between them. A total of 107 strains of C. clostridioforme were investigated by sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, phenotypic studies, and antimicrobial susceptibility testing. In addition, clinical data from patients whose infections yielded an organism identified as C. clostridioforme was reviewed. Data from the above studies revealed three principal species in what has been called C. clostridioforme: Clostridium bolteae, C. clostridioforme, and Clostridium hathewayi. Each species may be distinguished by certain phenotypic tests. All three species were involved in infections, including bacteremia. C. clostridioforme appears to be associated with more serious or invasive human infections than the other two species in the group. Resistance to penicillin G is common and is due to beta-lactamase production. Resistance to clindamycin and moxifloxacin is also seen. The three species differ in terms of virulence and antimicrobial resistance. "C. clostridioforme" actually represents three distinct species that are different in terms of 16S rRNA sequences, phenotypic characteristics, and antimicrobial susceptibility. It is important for microbiology laboratories to distinguish between these species and for clinicians to be aware of the differences between them.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Clostridium / classification*
  • Clostridium / drug effects*
  • Clostridium / genetics
  • Clostridium / pathogenicity
  • Clostridium Infections / microbiology
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S