Clostridial spore germination versus bacilli: Genome mining and current insights

Y. Xiao, C. Francke, T. Abee, M.H.J. Wells-Bennik

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59 Citations (Scopus)


Bacilli and clostridia share the characteristic of forming metabolically inactive endospores. Spores are highly resistant to adverse environmental conditions including heat, and their ubiquitous presence in nature makes them inevitable contaminants of foods and food ingredients. Spores can germinate under favourable conditions, and the following outgrowth can lead to food spoilage and foodborne illness. Germination of spores has been best studied in Bacillus species, but the process of spore germination is less well understood in anaerobic clostridia. This paper describes a genome mining approach focusing on the genes related to spore germination of clostridia. To this end, 12 representative sequenced Bacillus genomes and 24 Clostridium genomes were analyzed for the distribution of known and putative germination-related genes and their homologues. Overall, the number of ger operons encoding germinant receptors is lower in clostridia than in bacilli, and some Clostridium species are predicted to produce cortex-lytic enzymes that are different from the ones encountered in bacilli. The in silico germination model constructed for clostridia was linked to recently obtained experimental data for selected germination determinants, mainly in Clostridium perfringens. Similarities and differences between germination mechanisms of bacilli and clostridia will be discussed. Keywords: Spore germination; Clostridium; Bacillus; Germinant receptors
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-274
JournalFood Microbiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • perfringens s40 spores
  • cortex-lytic enzyme
  • acid-soluble proteins
  • na+/h+-k+ antiporter
  • subtilis spores
  • nucleotide-sequence
  • difficile spores
  • dormant spores
  • inner membrane
  • anthracis ames


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