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

TitlePhenotypic memory in Bacillus subtilis links dormancy entry and exit by a spore quantity-quality tradeoff
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsMutlu, A, Trauth, S, Ziesack, M, Nagler, K, Bergeest, J-P, Rohr, K, Beck, N, Höfer, T, Bischofs, IB
JournalNat Commun.
Volume9
Issue1
Pagination69
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.

URLhttps://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-02477-1
DOI10.1038/s41467-017-02477-1