Regulated ploidy ofBacillus subtilisand three new isolates ofBacillusandPaenibacillus

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Bacteria were long assumed to be monoploid, maintaining one copy of a circular chromosome. In recent years it became obvious that the majority of species in several phylogenetic groups of prokaryotes are oligoploid or polyploid. The present study aimed at investigating the ploidy in Gram-positive aerobic endospore-forming bacteria. First, the numbers of origins and termini of the widely used laboratory strain Bacillus subtilis 168 were quantified. The strain was found to be mero-oligoploid in exponential phase (5.9 origins, 1.2 termini) and to down-regulate the number of origins in stationary phase. After inoculation of fresh medium with stationary-phase cells the onset of replication preceded the onset of mass increase. For the analysis of the ploidy in fresh isolates, three strains were isolated from soil, which were found to belong to the genera of Bacillus and Paenibacillus. All three strains were found to be mero-oligoploid in exponential phase and exhibit a growth phase-dependent down-regulation of the ploidy level in stationary phase. Taken together, these results indicate that mero-oligoploidy as well as growth phase-dependent copy number regulation might be widespread in and typical for Bacillus and related genera.

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