Clostridium (Clostridioides) difficile is a Gram positive, spore forming anaerobic bacterium that is a leading cause of antibiotic associated diarrhoea in the developed world. C. difficile is a genetically diverse species that can be divided into 8 phylogenetically distinct clades with clade 5 found to be genetically distant from all others. Isolates with the PCR ribotype 078 belong to clade 5, and are often associated with C. difficile infection in both humans and animals. Colonisation of animals and humans by ribotype 078 raises questions about possible zoonotic transmission, and also the diversity of reservoirs for ribotype 078 strains within the environment. One of the key factors which enables C. difficile to be a successful, highly transmissible pathogen is its ability to produce oxygen resistant spores capable of surviving harsh conditions. Here we describe the existence of a non-sporulating variant of C. difficile ribotype 078 harbouring mutations leading to premature stop codons within the master regulator, Spo0A. As sporulation is imperative to the successful transmission of C. difficile this study was undertaken to investigate phenotypic characteristics of this asporogenous phenotype with regards to growth rate, antibiotic susceptibility, toxin production and biofilm formation.
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