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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2010 Dec;8(12):890-6. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2453. Epub 2010 Oct 25.

Exit from dormancy in microbial organisms.

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Jonathan Dworkin and Ishita M. Shah are at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.


Bacteria can exist in metabolically inactive states that allow them to survive conditions that are not conducive for growth. Such dormant cells may sense when conditions have improved and re-initiate growth, lest they be outcompeted by their neighbours. Growing bacteria turn over and release large quantities of their cell walls into the environment. Drawing from recent work on the germination of Bacillus subtilis spores, we propose that many microorganisms exit dormancy in response to cell wall muropeptides.

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