Fact Sheet: Clostridium spp
- Clostridium is a genus of typically anaerobic, Gram-positive, spore-forming bacteria belonging to the family Clostridiaceae.
- Pasteur first named them Vibrion butryque, but Adam Prazmowski change this bacteria’s name to Clostridium in 1880. Its name comes from the Greek kloster (κλωστήρ) or spindle.
- Clostridia are one of the most commonly studied anaerobes that cause disease in humans.
- The Clostridium genus contains more than 100 species.
- Clostridia spp are vegetative cells that are rod shaped and arranged in pairs or short chains.
- Clostridium genus bacteria are often described as a biological threat but many of them have positive properties and are used in cosmetic and medicine manufacturing.
- Clostridia typically live in dust, soil, water and in human and animal intestines.
- When the environment is hostile, Clostridia produce spores which are resistant to many disinfectants, including some with antimicrobial properties.
- The odour produced by the Clostridia metabolism can be likened to that of mud, manure and the decay of plant materials.
- Clostridium is typically an opportunistic pathogen and some of the better-known species are:
- C. botulinum, which produces botulinum toxin and can cause botulism.
- C. difficile, which can overgrow in the intestine when the inherent gut flora has been compromised (e.g. after antimicrobial treatment) leading, in some cases, to colitis.
- C. tetani, which causes tetanus (lockjaw).
- C. perfringens, which is commonly associated with gas gangrene also known as myonecrosis.
- C. sordellii, which can cause toxic shock syndrome.
In the Lab / at Wickham Laboratories Ltd
- Media such as Columbia Agar (COL) can be used to examine for the presence / absence of Clostridium. Small translucent beige colonies 2-3mm in diameter are indicated as a positive result. This is then confirmed using identification techniques such as MALDI-ToF (Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption lonization-time of Flight).
- It is one of the gallery of microorganisms used in growth promotion tests of media for Microbiological Quality of Sterile products Ph Eur 2.6.1, USP <71> & JP 4.06.
- The majority of species are obligate anaerobes and will only grow in conditions with very little or no oxygen present; however, some species can grow under aerobic conditions or are aero-tolerant. Most species are Gram-positive, but a few are Gram-negative.