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L-alanine-induced germination in Bacillus licheniformis -the impact of native gerA sequences

Elisabeth H Madslien12, Per Einar Granum2, Janet M Blatny1 and Toril Lindbäck2*

Author Affiliations

1 Forsvarets Forskningsinstitutt FFI, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, P. O. Box 25, N-2027 Kjeller, Norway

2 Department of Food Safety and Infection Biology, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, P. O. Box 8146 Dep, N-0033 Oslo, Norway

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BMC Microbiology 2014, 14:101  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-14-101

Published: 22 April 2014



L-alanine, acting through the GerA receptor, was recently found to be an efficient germinant in Bacillus licheniformis ATCC14580/DSM13.


In this study, we show that several of 46 examined B. licheniformis strains germinate remarkably slower than the type strain when exposed to L-alanine. These strains are not necessarily closely related, as determined by MLST (multi-locus sequence typing). Three of the slow-germinating strains were further examined in order to see whether nucleotide substitutions in the gerA sequences were responsible for the slow L-alanine germination. This was performed by complementing the transformable type strain derivate MW3ΔgerAA with gerA variants from the three slow-germinating strains; NVH1032, NVH1112 and NVH800.


A wide selection of B. licheniformis strains was evaluated for L-alanine-induced germination efficiency. Our results show that gerA substitutions could only partially explain why spores of some B. licheniformis strains responded slower than others in the presence of L-alanine.

Bacillus licheniformis; Germination; L-alanine; gerA; Genotype; Germinant receptor