Structure, synthesis, and hydrolysis of the peptidoglycan wall components of vegetative cells and endospores. Studies utilize the model Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis and the pathogens Bacillus anthracis and Clostridium difficile. Molecular genetic techniques are used to identify and manipulate the genes encoding the enzymes that polymerize and hydrolyze the peptidoglycan. Biochemical methods are used to examine the activities of these proteins and the peptidoglycan structural alterations associated with genetic and phenotypic changes. Potential applications of this research are in antibiotic design and in spore-killing for decontamination procedures.