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Surviving Between Hosts: Sporulation and Transmission

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  • Authors: Michelle C. Swick1, Theresa M. Koehler2, Adam Driks3
  • Editors: Indira T. Kudva4, Tracy L. Nicholson5
    Affiliations: 1: University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Houston, TX 77030; 2: University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Houston, TX 77030; 3: Loyola University Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, IL 60153; 4: National Animal Disease Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ames, IA; 5: National Animal Disease Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ames, IA
  • Source: microbiolspec July 2016 vol. 4 no. 4 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.VMBF-0029-2015
  • Received 23 November 2015 Accepted 21 December 2015 Published 29 July 2016
  • Adam Driks, [email protected]
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  • Abstract:

    To survive adverse conditions, some bacterial species are capable of developing into a cell type, the “spore,” which exhibits minimal metabolic activity and remains viable in the presence of multiple environmental challenges. For some pathogenic bacteria, this developmental state serves as a means of survival during transmission from one host to another. Spores are the highly infectious form of these bacteria. Upon entrance into a host, specific signals facilitate germination into metabolically active replicating organisms, resulting in disease pathogenesis. In this article, we will review spore structure and function in well-studied pathogens of two genera, and , focusing on and , and explore current data regarding the lifestyles of these bacteria outside the host and transmission from one host to another.

  • Citation: Swick M, Koehler T, Driks A. 2016. Surviving Between Hosts: Sporulation and Transmission. Microbiol Spectrum 4(4):VMBF-0029-2015. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.VMBF-0029-2015.


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To survive adverse conditions, some bacterial species are capable of developing into a cell type, the “spore,” which exhibits minimal metabolic activity and remains viable in the presence of multiple environmental challenges. For some pathogenic bacteria, this developmental state serves as a means of survival during transmission from one host to another. Spores are the highly infectious form of these bacteria. Upon entrance into a host, specific signals facilitate germination into metabolically active replicating organisms, resulting in disease pathogenesis. In this article, we will review spore structure and function in well-studied pathogens of two genera, and , focusing on and , and explore current data regarding the lifestyles of these bacteria outside the host and transmission from one host to another.

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Schematic representation of spores of (left), (middle), and (right) illustrating the major spore structures. The innermost compartment (housing the spore DNA), the core, is white. The inner membrane (the location of the germinant receptors in and , but not ) is the black oval surrounding the core. The gray region is the spore peptidoglycan and, surrounding that, the dark blue is the coat. Although an outer membrane is present during spore formation, it is most likely not present in the mature spore ( 72 ) and, therefore, is not shown here. For simplicity, the sublayers of the coat are not indicated. (but not the other two species) ( 65 ) possesses an additional outer layer, the exosporium, indicated by a red line (the exosporium basal layer) and protrusions extending from the basal layer surface (the hair-like projections, or nap). The region between the coat and the exosporium is the interspace. The coat has a scalloped appearance in cross-section, as indicated in the figure.

Source: microbiolspec July 2016 vol. 4 no. 4 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.VMBF-0029-2015
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