by Piter Kehoma Boll
Today we’ll return to the tiny world of the bacteria once more. And I guess it is a good time to introduce another celebrity from the bacterial world, the hay bacillus or grass bacillus, Bacilus subtilis.
As any typical Bacillus, the hay bacillus has rod-shaped cells, hence the name. They measure about 4–10 µm in length and 0.25–1.0 µm in diameter and have many flagella, so they can move quickly in a liquid medium. The natural habitat of the hay bacillus is the soil, but it can also be found in the intestine of mammals, including humans.
As it is common among the members of the phylum Firmicutes, the hay bacillus is able to enter in a dormant form called endospore that is able to tolerate extreme environmental conditions. They can survive in this form for decades, centuries, perhaps even millenia, until the conditions are adequate again.
The hay bacillus is one of the most studied and cultivated bacterium in the world, being considered a model organism. In East Asia, one of its varieties is used in the production of the Japanese traditional food nattō. Before the introduction of antibiotics, it was common to use cultures of B. subtilis in treatments to improve immunological responses. Currently, it is used in laboratory studies focused on the formation of endospores and the phenomenon of transformation, a process by which a bacterium can capture DNA from the medium in which it is and incorporate it into its own genetic material. Additionally, it is used to produce a variety of substances, including naturally produced antibiotics.
Our fellow is indeed a good friend for us.
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Anagnostopoulos, C.; Spizizen, J. (1961) Requirements for transformation in Bacillus subitilis. Journal of Bacteriology, 81(5): 741–746.
Stein, T. (2005) Bacillus subtilis antibiotics: structures, syntheses and specific functions. Molecular Biology, 56: 845–857. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2958.2005.04587.x
Wikipedia. Bacillus subtilis. Available at < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacillus_subtilis >. Access on November 9, 2017.
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