The ComX Quorum Sensing Peptide of Bacillus subtilis Affects Biofilm Formation Negatively and Sporulation Positively

Mihael Špacapan, Tjaša Danevčič, Polonca Stefanic, Michael Porter, Nicola Stanley-Wall, Ines Mandic‐Mulec (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


Quorum sensing (QS) is often required for the formation of bacterial biofilms and is a popular target of biofilm control strategies. Previous studies implicate the ComQXPA quorum sensing system of Bacillus subtilis as a promoter of biofilm formation. Here, we report that ComX signaling peptide deficient mutants form thicker and more robust pellicle biofilms that contain chains of cells. We confirm that ComX positively affects the transcriptional activity of the PepsA promoter, which controls the synthesis of the major matrix polysaccharide. In contrast, ComX negatively controls the PtapA promoter, which drives the production of TasA, a fibrous matrix protein. Overall, the biomass of the mutant biofilm lacking ComX accumulates more monosaccharide and protein content than the wild type. We conclude that this QS phenotype might be due to extended investment into growth rather than spore development. Consistent with this, the ComX deficient mutant shows a delayed activation of the pre-spore specific promoter, PspoIIQ, and a delayed, more synchronous commitment to sporulation. We conclude that ComX mediated early commitment to sporulation of the wild type slows down biofilm formation and modulates the coexistence of multiple biological states during the early stages of biofilm development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1131
Number of pages20
Issue number8
Early online date27 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • biofilm
  • pellicle
  • quorum
  • sporulation
  • bacillus
  • signal
  • communication
  • heterogeneity
  • matrix
  • surfactin
  • Quorum
  • Pellicle
  • Heterogeneity
  • Signal
  • Surfactin
  • Matrix
  • Sporulation
  • Bacillus
  • Biofilm
  • Communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology
  • Microbiology


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