Exosporial membrane plasticity of Clostridium sporogenes and Clostridium difficile

Tissue Cell. 1997 Aug;29(4):449-61. doi: 10.1016/s0040-8166(97)80031-6.


This investigation examines the morphological alterations of the exosporial membranes of Clostridium sporogenes ATCC 3584 and Clostridium difficile ATCC 43594 and 9689 endospores in relation to their possible function during germination in the attachment/colonization process of these pathogenic bacteria. There is no reported function for the exosporial membrane, nor exosporial appendages, of clostridial endospores. Advances in high resolution, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) permit the examination of these delicate, morphological projections on intact spores in the process of attachment. The morphological plasticity of the exosporial membrane projections during activation and germination was examined to determine whether the appearance of these exosporial projections coincided with attachment of the spores to the nutritive substrate, and whether this attachment could be altered by physical agitation, cation competition with Ba2+, chelation with EDTA, or treatment with colchicine. Following incubation, activated spores could not be removed from the agar surface by agitation in water (pH 7.2 or 9.1), nor by agitation in buffer or colchicine, indicating that some form of adherence or attachment to the agar had taken place. When agitated in the presence of Ba2+ or EDTA in phosphate buffered saline or EDTA in water, all activated spores detached from the agar and exhibited decreased exosporial projections and minimal, if any, attachment structures to the agar surface. Activated clostridial spores were found to attach to agar by delicate extensions of the exosporium that could be disrupted by EDTA or Ba2+ exposure, but were unchanged when shaken in buffer or water.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure*
  • Clostridium / cytology*
  • Clostridium difficile / cytology*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Spores, Bacterial / cytology