Chance and necessity in bacillus subtilis development

Nicolas Mirouze, David Dubnau

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Biologists often think of regulation as deterministic; causes have invariant consequences, and changes predictably beget further changes. However, with the advent of techniques for the study of individual cell phenotypes, it has become evident that random cell-to-cell variation in the amounts of mRNA and protein is prevalent and often entails significant consequences, particularly for developmental processes (1, 2). This review focuses on the developmental pathways of Bacillus subtilis, with attention to the roles of this variation and of stochastic reactions in competence, motility, sporulation, and biofilm formation. We do not comprehensively review the regulatory mechanisms that control these pathways but present only what is needed for our purposes. Figure 1 identifies the major players that are discussed below and illustrates the competence, motility, cannibalism, biofilm, and sporulation modules that represent the major known developmental pathways of B. subtilis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Bacterial Spore
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Molecules to Systems
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781683670780
ISBN (Print)9781555816759
StatePublished - Apr 9 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


  • Bacillus subtilis
  • Biofilm formation
  • Developmental pathways
  • Epigenetic switch model
  • K-state genes
  • Phosphorelay
  • Sporulation response
  • Starvation medium
  • Switch protein
  • Temporal gatekeeper


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