Structural characterization of Clostridium sordellii spores of diverse human, animal, and environmental origin and comparison to Clostridium difficile spores

Rebecca Rabi, Lynne Turnbull, Cynthia B. Whitchurch, Milena Awad, Dena Lyras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Clostridium sordellii is an often-lethal bacterium causing human and animal disease. Crucial to the infectious cycle of C. sordellii is its ability to produce spores, which can germinate into toxin-producing vegetative bacteria under favorable conditions. However, structural details of the C. sordellii spore are lacking. Here, we used a range of electron microscopy techniques together with superresolution optical microscopy to characterize the C. sordellii spore morphology with an emphasis on the exosporium. The C. sordellii spore is made up of multiple layers with the exosporium presenting as a smooth balloon-like structure that is open at the spore poles. Focusing on the outer spore layers, we compared the morphologies of C. sordellii spores derived from different strains and determined that there is some variation between the spores, most notably with spores of some strains having tubular appendages. Since Clostridium difficile is a close relative of C. sordellii, their spores were compared by electron microscopy and their exosporia were found to be distinctly different from each other. This study therefore provides new structural details of the C. sordellii spore and offers insights into the physical structure of the exosporium across clostridial species.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00343-17
Number of pages12
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • Clostridium
  • Clostridium difficile
  • Clostridium sordellii
  • Endospores
  • Exosporium

Cite this