Ploidy of Bacillus subtilis exfusants: the haploid nature of cells forming colonies with biparental or prototrophic phenotypes

J Gen Microbiol. 1992 Jun;138(6):1077-88. doi: 10.1099/00221287-138-6-1077.


To investigate the relationship between DNA content and cell volume, we have attempted to repeat the construction of stable Bacillus subtilis diploid cells through protoplast fusion. Colonies with a biparental phenotype and those with a prototrophic phenotype were identified among exfusants of a cross between two polyauxotrophic strains. The ploidy of cells constituting such colonies was assessed by protoplast self-fusion, determination of the DNA to dry weight ratio of exponentially growing cells, and by quantitative DNA-DNA hybridization. Within the precision of these methods, all colonies were found to consist of haploid cells. A previously described non-complementing diploid was also found to be haploid. Therefore, the genetic evidence in favour of diploidy, based on continuing segregation of cells with a parental or recombinant phenotype, cannot be accounted for except by the maintenance of such cells as a minority population in mixed colonies through cross-feeding. Reconstruction experiments with mixtures of whole parental cells confirm that biparental colonies are indeed mixed colonies which arise either by sticking of parental cells or through coincidence, i.e. their plating within a distance of about 0.4 mm. The previously reported experimental results can be accounted for in the light of our results.

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics*
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • DNA, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Diploidy
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Genetic Variation
  • Haploidy*
  • Phenotype


  • DNA, Bacterial