Description and distribution of the genus

The family Bacillaceae comprises the rod-shaped bacteria which form endospores. The two principal subdivisions are the anaerobic spore-forming bacilli of the genus Clostridium and the aerobic or facultatively anaerobic endospore formers constituting the genus Bacillus. Familiarly known as aerobic spore-bearing bacilli (ASB), they are gram positive or gram variable and the majority are motile by peritrichous flagella. The endospores, one per vegetative mother cell, are resistant to adverse physical and chemical conditions. They are mostly saprophytes, having a wide diversity of physiological characteristics, which, together with their ability to form hardy spores, enables them to be widely distributed in nature from Arctic environments to hot springs and desert sands and from fresh water to salt or marine sediments.

Thermophilic and psychrophilic, acidophilic and alk-aliphilic, and halophilic representatives exist which are capable of growing at extremes of temperature, pH or salt concentration that would inhibit or destroy life processes in other living organisms. The spores are dispersed in dust, water and on materials of plant or animal origin.

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