Difference between Bacterial Endospores and Vegetative Cells

Endospore vs Vegetative Cell

Bacterial endospores are special tough, dormant and resistant spores produced by some Gram-positive bacteria of during unfavorable environmental conditions. They help the bacteria to endure the unfavorable conditions. The endospores are structurally, metabolically and functionally very different from bacterial vegetative cells. In the previous post, we have discussed about the Structure, Characteristics, Significance and Formation of Endospores.

Endospore of bacteria

Bacterial Endospores under Phase-contrast microscope

In this post, we will discuss about the Difference between a Bacterial Endospore and Vegetative Cell with a Comparison Table.

Endospore vs Vegetative Cell

Bacillus: vegetative cells (pink) and Endospores (green)( Image Source CC Wikipedia)

Difference between Bacterial Endospores and Vegetative Cells

CharacteristicsVegetative CellsBacterial Endospores
Appearance under MicroscopeNon refractiveRefractive
StructureTypical Gram Positive or Negative bacterial CellThick spore like structure with exosporium, spore coat, cortex and core wall
Level of CalciumLow level in vegetative cellsHigh calcium level in endospores
Dipicolinic acidAbsent in vegetative cellsPresent in endospores
Activity of EnzymesHigh enzymatic activityVery low enzymatic activity
Respiration rateRespiration rate highUsually respiration absent, very less if present
Macromolecule SynthesisOccursNot Occurs
Presence of mRNAmRNA present in the vegetative cellsmRNA absent in the endospores
Heat resistance capacityVery low heat resistance capacityVery high heat resistance capacity
Resistance to RadiationsVery lowVery high resistance
Resistance to chemicals such as H2O2 or AcidsVery lowVery high resistance
Staining propertiesStainable with common bacterial dyesUn-stainable with common dyes, requires special stains
Effect of lysozyme enzymeVegetative cells are sensitive to the activity of lysozymeEndospores are resistant to the action of lysozyme
Level of water contentHigh (80 – 90% of the cell)Very low (10 – 20%)
pH of CytoplasmAlways maintained above pH 7.0About 5.5 to 6 in the core of the spore
Small Acid Soluble Proteins (SASPs)SASPs absent in vegetative cellsSASPs Present in vegetative cells
Conformation of DNAUsually B-form of DNAUsually A-form of DNA

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