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Biochem J. 1969 Jan;111(1):1-5.

Control of teichoic acid and teichuronic acid biosyntheses in chemostat cultures of Bacillus subtilis var. niger.


1. Quantitative determination of the anionic polymers present in the walls of Bacillus subtilis var. niger organisms undergoing transition, in a chemostat culture, from either Mg(2+)-limitation to PO(4) (3-)-limitation or K(+)-limitation to PO(4) (3-)-limitation showed that teichuronic acid synthesis started immediately the culture became PO(4) (3-)-limited and proceeded at a rate substantially faster than the rate of biomass synthesis. 2. Simultaneously, the cell-wall teichoic acid content diminished at a rate greater than that due to dilution by newly synthesized wall material, and fragments of teichoic acid and mucopeptide accumulated in the culture extracellular fluid. 3. Equally rapid reverse changes occurred when a PO(4) (3-)-limited B. subtilis var. niger culture was returned to being Mg(2+)-limited. 4. It is concluded that in this organism both teichoic acid and teichuronic acid syntheses are expressions of a single genotype, and a mechanism for the control of synthesis of both polymers is suggested. 5. These results are discussed with reference to the constantly changing environmental conditions that obtain in a batch culture and the variation in bacterial cell-wall composition that is reported to occur throughout the growth cycle.

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