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A Microbial Biorealm page on the genus JohnsonAE


Higher order taxa

Domain: Bacteria Phylum: Firmicutes Class: Clostridia Order: Clostridiales Family: Clostridiaceae


NCBI: Taxonomy

Genus species


Description and significance

Clostridium sordellii is an anaerobic, gram positive and spore forming bacterium. It has peritrichous flagella and its most common habitat is the soil but it is also found in intestines of animals and humans. Clostridium sordellii has both non-pathogenic strains and pathogenic strains. Its pathogenic strains are known to cause toxic shock syndrome in humans and enteritis in sheep and cattle (1). This bacterium is important because its pathogenic strain causes illnesses such as diarrhea and toxic shock which sometimes lead to death of the organism infected. Literature review of its virulence and resistance will be done and in addition, research on its non-pathogenic strain and its usefulness will also be looked into.

Genome structure

There are 42 Clostridium sordellii nucleotide sequences in the NCBI database. Examples are Clostridium sordellii 7-alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase gene and Clostridium sordellii strain 1809_1 16S ribosomal RNA gene. All 42 have linear chromosomes and rangimg from 400-1600 base-pairs. There are also 3 known crystallized toxin structures of Clostridium sordelli and they are; 1)Crystal Structure of the Catalytic Domain of Lethal Toxin From Clostridium Sordellii In Complex With Udp-Glc and Calcium Ion 2)Crystal Structure of the Catalytic Domain of Lethal Toxin From Clostridium Sordellii In Complex With Udp, Castanospermine and Calcium Ion 3)Crystal Structure of the Catalytic Domain of Lethal Toxin From Clostridium Sordellii In Complex With Udp-Glc and Manganese Ion (2).

Cell structure and metabolism

An important molecule that Clostridium sordellii produces that aids its pathogenic strain in surviving is its toxins. Clostridium sordellii produces a variety of different toxins such as exotoxin and endotoxin. Two types of exotoxin produced include lethal toxin and hemorrhagic toxin. Lethal toxin is extremely potent as it leads to cell lysis and inhibits G- proteins that aid cell communication (3).


Clostridium sordellii lives in the soil, sheep, cattle and human gastrointestinal tract. It is also primarily present in the microbe population of the human vagina (3&4). Clostridium sordellii was recently found to be a nitrogenous fixing bacterium as it is present in Coir Pith which is a good source of organic manure for plants (5).


Clostridium sordellii produces toxins only in its vegetative state and infects post pregnancy but primarily develops after childbirth. Sex hormones, steroid hormones, increased amino acid level and vaginal pH during pregnancy triggers the spores to germinate and also regulates its toxin production. Toxic shock caused by Clostridium sordellii toxins usually leads to 70% death in women. Pneumonia and endocarditis are other complications that can arise as a result of Clostridium sordellii infection. Symptoms of this infection include, severe abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Toxic shock symptoms include low blood pressure, loss of blood plasma, rapid heart rate, fever. In animals such as sheep and cattle, infection by Clostridium sordellii occurs after the ingestion of its spores as they are not readily present in these animals like they are in human vagina (4).

Current Research and or Application to Biotechnology

A finding concerning Clostridium sordelli involves coir fibers. Coir fiber is the hard husk extracted from coconut husk and in the process of extraction, coir pith, a by product is released. Coir pith is a plant nutrient and investigations showed that Clostridium sordelli is among the four nitrogenous fixing bacteria present in Coir pith (5). Another discovery about Clostridium sordellii is a new therapeutic option for combating its infection. This new method involves inhibiting one of its toxins(Tcsl) that causes apoptosis of phagocytic cells using tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) that prevents apoptosis (6). Finally, recent news concerning Clostridium sordellii is that bile salts and steroid hormones increase the capability of Clostridium sordelli spores to germinate hence becoming toxin producing vegetative cells (4).


[1]M. J. Aldape, A. E. Bryant,and D. L. Stevens "Clostridium sordellii Infection: Epidemiology,Clinical Findings, and Current Perspectives on Diagnosis and Treatment" Clinical Infectious Diseases. (2006) 43 (11): 1436-1446 [2] NCBI DATABASE [3]Ralph P Miech "Pathophysiology of Mifepristone-Induced Septic Shock Due to Clostridium sordellii" The Annals of Pharmacotherapy September (2005)39 (9): 1483-1488 [4] Marc Liggins, Norma Ramirez, Natiera Magnuson and Ernesto Abel-Santos "Progesterone Analogs Influence Germination of Clostridium sordellii and Clostridium difficile Spores In Vitro" Journal of Bacteriology June (2011)193 (11): 2776-2783 [5]Abesh Reghuvaran, Kala K. Jacob and Anita Das Ravindranath"Isolation and characterization of nitrogen fixing bacteria from raw coir pith" 3 April, (2012) 11(27): 7063-7071 [6]Life Science Weekly (March 20, 2012): 3076