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Nat Commun. 2018 Jan 4;9(1):69. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-02477-1.

Phenotypic memory in Bacillus subtilis links dormancy entry and exit by a spore quantity-quality tradeoff.

Mutlu A1,2,3, Trauth S1,2,3, Ziesack M1,2, Nagler K1,3, Bergeest JP1,4,5, Rohr K1,4,5, Becker N1,6, Höfer T1,6, Bischofs IB7,8,9.

Author information

1
BioQuant Center of the University of Heidelberg, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany.
2
Center for Molecular Biology (ZMBH), University of Heidelberg, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany.
3
Max-Planck-Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, 35043, Marburg, Germany.
4
Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology (IPMB), 69120, Heidelberg, Germany.
5
Department of Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), 69120, Heidelberg, Germany.
6
Division of Theoretical Systems Biology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), 69120, Heidelberg, Germany.
7
BioQuant Center of the University of Heidelberg, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany. ilka.bischofs@mpi-marburg.mpg.de.
8
Center for Molecular Biology (ZMBH), University of Heidelberg, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany. ilka.bischofs@mpi-marburg.mpg.de.
9
Max-Planck-Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, 35043, Marburg, Germany. ilka.bischofs@mpi-marburg.mpg.de.

Abstract

Some bacteria, such as Bacillus subtilis, withstand starvation by forming dormant spores that revive when nutrients become available. Although sporulation and spore revival jointly determine survival in fluctuating environments, the relationship between them has been unclear. Here we show that these two processes are linked by a phenotypic "memory" that arises from a carry-over of molecules from the vegetative cell into the spore. By imaging life histories of individual B. subtilis cells using fluorescent reporters, we demonstrate that sporulation timing controls nutrient-induced spore revival. Alanine dehydrogenase contributes to spore memory and controls alanine-induced outgrowth, thereby coupling a spore's revival capacity to the gene expression and growth history of its progenitors. A theoretical analysis, and experiments with signaling mutants exhibiting altered sporulation timing, support the hypothesis that such an intrinsically generated memory leads to a tradeoff between spore quantity and spore quality, which could drive the emergence of complex microbial traits.

PMID:
29302032
PMCID:
PMC5754360
DOI:
10.1038/s41467-017-02477-1
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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