Identification of catabolite repression as a physiological regulator of biofilm formation by Bacillus subtilis by use of DNA microarrays

Nicola R. Stanley, Robert A. Britton, Alan D. Grossman, Beth A. Lazazzera

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    199 Citations (Scopus)


    Biofilms are structured communities of cells that are encased in a self-produced polymeric matrix and are adherent to a surface. Many biofilms have a significant impact in medical and industrial settings. The model gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis has recently been shown to form biofilms. To gain insight into the genes involved in biofilm formation by this bacterium, we used DNA microarrays representing >99% of the annotated B. subtilis open reading frames to follow the temporal changes in gene expression that occurred as cells transitioned from a planktonic to a biofilm state. We identified 519 genes that were differentially expressed at one or more time points as cells transitioned to a biofilm. Approximately 6% of the genes of B. subtilis were differentially expressed at a time when 98% of the cells in the population were in a biofilm. These genes were involved in motility, phage-related functions, and metabolism. By comparing the genes differentially expressed during biofilm formation with those identified in other genomewide transcriptional-profiling studies, we were able to identify several transcription factors whose activities appeared to be altered during the transition from a planktonic state to a biofilm. Two of these transcription factors were Spo0A and sigma-H, which had previously been shown to affect biofilm formation by B. subtilis. A third signal that appeared to be affecting gene expression during biofilm formation was glucose depletion. Through quantitative biofilm assays and confocal scanning laser microscopy, we observed that glucose inhibited biofilm formation through the catabolite control protein CcpA.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1951-1957
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Bacteriology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003


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