Last week at the International Conference on Gram-positive Pathogens, there were talks (and posters) on Bacillus anthracis and Clostridium difficile. While listening to some of these talks and poster presentations, I was forced to endure a phrase that grinds my nerves. What is that you ask? It's the phrase: "The dormant spore."
It bugs me because it's (1) incorrect and (2) redundant.
(1) Why the phrase is incorrect.
Bacteria don't make spores. Members of the genera Bacillus and Clostridium undergo sporulation, but the product is an endospore, not a spore. A spore is the result of asexual reproduction, an endospore is not.
Now, I realize that if you are giving a talk about endospore or sporulation that you are going to say the word endospore multiple times. I don't think it is a big deal if people drop the word endospore for spore for the duration of the talk if they at least refer to it correctly in the beginning. This is fairly common. Referring to an endospore as a spore didn't even use to bother me at all until I met multiple people working on endospore-forming bacteria that did not realize the difference.
(2) Why it's redundant.
An endospore is a dehydrated, highly-refractile product resulting from a series of biochemical and morphological changes known as sporulation. Endospores are resistant to ultra-violet radiation, extreme temperatures, chemical disinfectants, dessication and pressure. They are metabolically inactive, i.e. dormant.
Using the phrase dormant spore (or dormant endospore) is the same as saying frozen ice.
It might seem silly, but it bugs me.
Anyone want to share their scientific pet peeves?