A spore is a cell that certain fungi, plants (moss, ferns), and bacteria produce. Spores are involved in reproduction.
Certain bacteria make spores as a way to defend themselves. These spores have thick walls. They can resist high temperatures, humidity, and other environmental conditions.
The bacteria Clostridia form spores. These spores create the bacteria that cause a rare condition called gas gangrene and a type of colitis that is linked to use of antibiotics.
Chemical disinfectants can kill bacteria, but they 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.
Gerding DN, Johnson S. Clostridial infections. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 296.
Schmucker R, Bryant K. Antibiotic-associated colitis. In: Cherry JD, Harrison GJ, Kaplan SL, Steinbach WJ, Hotez PJ, eds. Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 45.
Review Date 8/14/2015
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.