The Bacillus subtilis endospore: assembly and functions of the multilayered coat

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2013 Jan;11(1):33-44. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2921. Epub 2012 Dec 3.


Sporulation in Bacillus subtilis involves an asymmetric cell division followed by differentiation into two cell types, the endospore and the mother cell. The endospore coat is a multilayered shell that protects the bacterial genome during stress conditions and is composed of dozens of proteins. Recently, fluorescence microscopy coupled with high-resolution image analysis has been applied to the dynamic process of coat assembly and has shown that the coat is organized into at least four distinct layers. In this Review, we provide a brief summary of B. subtilis sporulation, describe the function of the spore surface layers and discuss the recent progress that has improved our understanding of the structure of the endospore coat and the mechanisms of coat assembly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / chemistry
  • Bacillus subtilis / growth & development*
  • Bacillus subtilis / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Division
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Spores, Bacterial / chemistry
  • Spores, Bacterial / growth & development*
  • Spores, Bacterial / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • spore-specific proteins, Bacillus