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Definition Return to top
A spore is a reproductive cell produced by plants (fungi, moss, ferns) and some protozoa and bacteria. The spore often fully develops after a state of dormancy or hibernation.
Certain bacteria produce spores as a defensive mechanism. Bacterial spores have thick walls and are very resistant to high temperatures, humidity, and other unfavorable conditions.
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Chemical disinfection kills bacteria, but does not destroy their spores. Sterilization destroys spores as well as bacteria, and requires high temperatures and high pressures. In health-care settings, sterilization is usually accomplished using a device called an autoclave.Update Date: 7/25/2007 Updated by: Kenneth M. Wener, MD, Department of Infectious Diseases. Lahey Clinic, Burlington, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.