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Anaerobe. 2019 Mar 26. pii: S1075-9964(19)30063-0. doi: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2019.03.016. [Epub ahead of print]

Terbium chloride influences Clostridium difficile spore germination.

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Department of Biology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 77843, USA.
Department of Biology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 77843, USA. Electronic address:


The germination of Clostridium difficile spores is an important stage of the C. difficile life cycle. In other endospore-forming bacteria, the composition of the medium in which the spores are generated influences the abundance of germination-specific proteins, thereby influencing the sensitivity of the spores towards germinants. In C. difficile media composition on the spores has only been reported to influence the number of spores produced. One of the measures of spore germination is the analysis of the release of DPA from the spore core. To detect DPA release in real time, terbium chloride is often added to the germination conditions because Tb3+ complexes with the released DPA and this can be detected using fluorescence measurements. Although C. difficile spores germinate in response to TA and glycine, recently calcium was identified as an enhancer for spore germination. Here, we find that germination by spores prepared in peptone rich media, such as 70:30, is positively influenced by terbium. We hypothesize that, in these assays, Tb3+ functions similarly to calcium. Although the mechanism(s) causing increased sensitivity of the C. difficile spores that are prepared in peptone rich media to terbium is still unknown, we suggest that the TbCl3 concentration used in the analysis of C. difficile DPA release be carefully titrated so as not to misinterpret future findings.


C. difficile; Calcium; Clostridium difficile; DPA; Dipicolinic acid; Endospore; Germination; Magnesium; Manganese; Metals; Spore; Terbium

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