A transposon present in specific strains of Bacillus subtilis negatively affects nutrient- and dodecylamine-induced spore germination

Antonina O Krawczyk, Erwin M Berendsen, Anne de Jong, Jos Boekhorst, Marjon H Wells-Bennik, Oscar P Kuipers, Robyn T Eijlander

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Spore germination shows a large inter-strain variability. Spores of certain Bacillus subtilis strains, including isolates from spoiled food products, exhibit different germination behavior from spores of the well-studied model organism Bacillus subtilis 168, often for unknown reasons. In this study, we analyzed spore germination efficiencies and kinetics of seventeen B. subtilis strains with previously sequenced genomes. A subsequent gene-trait matching analysis revealed a correlation between a slow germination phenotype and the presence of a mobile genetic element, i.e. a Tn1546-like transposon. A detailed investigation of the transposon elements showed an essential role of a specific operon (spoVA(2mob) ) in inhibiting spore germination with nutrients and with the cationic surfactant dodecylamine. Our results indicate that this operon negatively influences release of Ca-DPA by the SpoVA channel and may additionally alter earlier germination events, potentially by affecting proteins in the spore inner membrane. The spoVA(2mob) operon is an important factor that contributes to inter-strain differences in spore germination. Screening for its genomic presence can be applied for identification of spores that exhibit specific properties that impede spore eradication by industrial processes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4830-4846
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2016

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