Clostridium spp

From Cow
Stained pus from a mixed anaerobic infection. At least three different clostridia are apparent.

Clostridium spp are a Gram-positive bacteria implicated in diseases such as Tetanus and necrotic enteritis in young calves.

The genus Clostridium consists of relatively large, Gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria in the Phylum Firmicutes (Clostridia is actually a Class in the Phylum). All species form endospores and have a strictly fermentative type of metabolism. Most clostridia will not grow under aerobic conditions and vegetative cells are killed by exposure to O2, but their spores are able to survive long periods of exposure to air[1].

Clostridia are able to ferment a wide variety of organic compounds. They produce end products such as butyric acid, acetic acid, butanol and acetone, and large amounts of gas (CO2 and H2) during fermentation of sugars. A variety of foul smelling compounds are formed during the fermentation of amino acids and fatty acids. The clostridia also produce a wide variety of extracellular enzymes to degrade large biological molecules (e.g. proteins, lipids, collagen, cellulose, etc.) in the environment into fermentable components. Hence, the clostridia play an important role in nature in biodegradation and the carbon cycle. In anaerobic clostridial infections, these enzymes play a role in invasion and pathology.

Species of Clostridium which are pathogenic to cattle include:


  1. Textbook of Bacteriology
  2. Eeckhaut V et al (2012) Clostridium novyi type B as a causative agent of bovine meat spoilage. Anaerobe 18(3):286-288
  3. el Sanousi SM & Musa MT (1989) Note on an association of Clostridium novyi type A and Clostridium sordellii with a case of gas-gangrene in a Zebu cow. Rev Elev Med Vet Pays Trop 42(3):391-392