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J Bacteriol. 2011 Aug;193(15):3765-72. doi: 10.1128/JB.05154-11. Epub 2011 May 27.

Quantitative analysis of spatial-temporal correlations during germination of spores of Bacillus Species.

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  • 1Center for Cell Analysis and Modeling, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030, USA.


Bacteria of Bacillus species sporulate upon starvation, and the resultant dormant spores germinate when the environment appears likely to allow the resumption of vegetative growth. Normally, the rates of germination of individual spores in populations are very heterogeneous, and the current work has investigated whether spore-to-spore communication enhances the synchronicity of germination. In order to do this work, time-lapse optical images of thousands of individual spores were captured during germination, and an image analysis algorithm was developed to do the following: (i) measure the positions and germination rates of many thousands of individual spores and (ii) compute pairwise correlations of their germination. This analysis showed that an individual spore's germination rate was dependent on its distance from other spores, especially at short distances. Thus, spores that were within a few micrometers exhibited an increased synchronicity in germination, suggesting that there is a mechanism for short-range communication between such spores during germination. However, two molecules known to be germinants that are released during germination, l-alanine and the 1:1 chelate of Ca²⁺ and dipicolinic acid, did not mediate spore-to-spore communication during germination.

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