Initiation of Antibiotic Production by the Stringent Response of Bacillus Subtilis Marburg

J Gen Microbiol. 1984 Oct;130(10):2473-82. doi: 10.1099/00221287-130-10-2473.


Bacillus subtilis Marburg was found to produce an appreciable amount of an antibiotic in a synthetic medium. Antibiotic activity was produced in parallel with cell growth, and production stopped at the end of exponential growth. When the synthetic medium was supplemented with a small amount of Casamino acids, however, antibiotic was made only at the end of growth and in lesser amounts. The ability of cells to produce the antibiotic increased when stringent (rel+ = wild-type) cells underwent a partial stringent response. These conditions also initiated extensive sporulation. An isogenic relaxed (rel) strain produced little antibiotic activity, which decreased under partial amino acid deprivation. In rel+ cells, the addition of a low concentration of chloramphenicol, which reduces ppGpp synthesis, also reduced antibiotic synthesis in both normal and amino acid-starved bacteria, without appreciably affecting their growth rate. Guanosine starvation of a gua mutant initiated sporulation, but decreased antibiotic production. The results show that the stringent response initiates both sporulation (differentiation) and antibiotic production (secondary metabolism), but by different mechanisms. It appears that sporulation results from a decrease of GTP, whereas antibiotic synthesis results from a different effect of the stringent response.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / biosynthesis*
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Bacillus subtilis / growth & development
  • Bacillus subtilis / metabolism*
  • Bacillus subtilis / physiology
  • Chloramphenicol / pharmacology
  • Culture Media
  • Guanosine / metabolism
  • Spores, Bacterial


  • Amino Acids
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Culture Media
  • Guanosine
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Chloramphenicol