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Crit Rev Microbiol. 1987;14(3):195-227.

Control of morphogenesis in myxobacteria.


The myxobacteria are Gram-negative soil bacteria that live in large communities known as swarms. The most remarkable characteristic of myxobacteria is their ability to form fruiting bodies that have a species-specific shape and color. Fruiting body formation requires the concerted effort of hundreds of thousands of cells. Development is initiated only when two conditions are satisfied. The cells must be nutritionally deprived (environmental signal) and there must be many other cells in the vicinity (intercellular signal). The development of one species, Myxococcus xanthus, has been studied in the most detail. M. xanthus uses amino acids as its primary carbon, nitrogen, and energy source. Starvation for a single amino acid, or for inorganic phosphate, serves as the environmental signal. A variety of intercellular signals appear to control the initiation of development and the timing of subsequent developmental events.

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