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Free Content Lethal effects of heat on bacterial physiology and structure

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High temperatures have profound effects on the structural and physiological properties of sporulating and non-sporulating bacteria, with membranes, RNA, DNA, ribosomes, protein and enzymes all affected. Nevertheless, it is apparent that no one single event is responsible for cell death. The induction of intracellular heat-shock proteins and the activation of extracellular alarmones in vegetative cells exposed to mildly lethal temperatures are important cell responses. In bacterial spores, several factors contribute to the overall resistance to moist (wet) and dry heat; the latter, but not the former, induces mutations. Heat resistance develops during sporulation, when spore-specific heat-shock proteins are also produced. Heat sensitivity is regained during germination of spores.

Keywords: bacterial physiology and structure; lethal temperature

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Science Review, PO Box 314, St. Albans, Herts AL1 4ZG, UK

Publication date: February 15, 2003

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