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Summary

Withstanding environmental adversity and seeking optimal conditions for reproduction are basic requirements for the survival of all organisms. Filamentous bacteria of the genus Streptomyces produce a remarkable cell type called the aerial hyphae that is central to its ability to meet both of these challenges. Recent advances have brought about a major shift in our understanding of the cell surface proteins that play important roles in the generation of these cells. Here we review our current understanding of one of these groups of proteins, the morphogenetic surfactants, with emphasis on the SapB protein of Streptomyces coelicolor.