Editor: Victor de Lorenzo
Generation of multiple cell types in Bacillus subtilis
Article first published online: 20 NOV 2008
© 2008 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved
FEMS Microbiology Reviews
Special Issue: Microbial Systems Biology
Volume 33, Issue 1, pages 152–163, January 2009
How to Cite
Lopez, D., Vlamakis, H. and Kolter, R. (2009), Generation of multiple cell types in Bacillus subtilis. FEMS Microbiology Reviews, 33: 152–163. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.2008.00148.x
- Issue published online: 10 DEC 2008
- Article first published online: 20 NOV 2008
- Received 23 September 2008; accepted 17 October 2008.First published online 20 November 2008.
- Bacillus subtilis;
- cell fate;
Bacillus subtilis is a Gram-positive bacterium that is well known for its ability to differentiate into metabolically inactive spores that are highly resistant to environmental stresses. In fact, populations of genetically identical B. subtilis comprise numerous distinct cell types. In addition to spores, cells can become genetically competent, motile, produce extracellular matrix or degradative enzymes, or secrete toxins that allow them to cannibalize their neighbors. Many of the cell fates listed above appear to be mutually exclusive. In this review, we discuss how individual cells within a population control their gene expression to ensure that proper regulation of differentiation occurs. These different cell fates are regulated by an intricate network that relies primarily on the activity of three major transcriptional regulators: Spo0A, DegU, and ComK. While individual cells must choose distinct cell fates, the population as a whole exhibits a spectrum of phenotypes whose diversity may increase fitness.