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Spores

Definition

A spore is a reproductive cell produced by certain fungi, plants (moss, ferns), and some bacteria. Often, the spore fully develops after a state of dormancy or hibernation.

Certain bacteria produce spores as a defensive mechanism. Bacterial spores have thick walls and are very resistant to high temperatures, humidity, and other unfavorable conditions. The bacteria Clostridia form spores that cause gas gangrene and antibiotic-associated colitis.

Alternative Names

Information

Chemical disinfection kills bacteria, but does not destroy their spores. Sterilization destroys spores as well as bacteria, and requires high temperatures and high pressures. In health-care settings, sterilization is usually accomplished using a device called an autoclave.

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      Review Date: 8/9/2009

      Review 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, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

      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- 2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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