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Keywords:

  • Bacillus ;
  • bacterial spores;
  • biocides

Summary

The structure and chemical composition of bacterial spores differ considerably from those of vegetative cells. These differences largely account for the unique resistance properties of the spore to environmental stresses, including disinfectants and sterilants, resulting in the emergence of spore-forming bacteria such as Clostridium difficile as major hospital pathogens. Although there has been considerable work investigating the mechanisms of action of many sporicidal biocides against Bacillus subtilis spores, there is far less information available for other species and particularly for various Clostridia. This paucity of information represents a major gap in our knowledge given the importance of Clostridia as human pathogens. This review considers the main spore structures, highlighting their relevance to spore resistance properties and detailing their chemical composition, with a particular emphasis on the differences between various spore formers. Such information will be vital for the rational design and development of novel sporicidal chemistries with enhanced activity in the future.