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Spores

Definition

A spore is a reproductive cell produced by certain fungi, plants (moss, ferns), and some bacteria.

Certain bacteria make spores as a way to defend themselves. Bacterial spores have thick walls and can resist high temperatures, humidity, and other environmental conditions.

The bacteria Clostridia form spores. These spores create the living bacteria that cause gas gangrene and antibiotic-associated colitis.

Information

Chemical disinfectants can kill bacteria, but do not destroy their spores.

A process called sterilization destroys spores and bacteria. It is done at high temperatures and under high pressures. In health-care settings, sterilization is usually done using a device called an autoclave.

References

Gerding DN, Johnson S. Clostridial infections. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 304.


Review Date: 8/3/2013
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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