The autolytic phenotype of Bacillus thuringiensis

N. Raddadi, A. Cherif, D. Mora, H. Ouzari, A. Boudabous, F. Molinari, D. Daffonchio*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Aims: To evaluate the autolytic phenotype of Bacillus thuringiensis. Methods and Results: The autolytic rate of 87 strains belonging to different subsp. of B. thuringiensis was examined at pH 6, 6.5 and 8.5 in different buffers under starvation conditions. At pH 6 the extent of autolysis (average in the strain collection 38.3 ± 21.1) was strain-dependent with wide variability, while at pH 6.5 and 8.5 (averages 72.0 ± 9.0 and 63.1 ± 8.2, respectively) it was much more uniform with only a few strains showing low autolytic rates. Forty-one per cent of the strains showed high resistance (≥80%) to mutanolysin, a commercial muramidase from Streptomyces. The peptidoglycan hydrolase pattern was evaluated by renaturing SDS-PAGE using cells of B. thuringiensis subsp. tolworthi HD125 as indicator. The strain collection showed seven major lytic bands of about 90, 63, 46, 38, 32, 28 and 25 kDa, and in the stationary growth phase (72 h) there was a more intense 25 kDa band in the autolytic pattern. Using Micrococcus lysodeicticus and Listeria monocytogenes as the indicators lytic activity was retained, as seen by the bands of 63, 46, 38, 32 and 25 kDa. Growth in the different media did not affect the autolytic pattern. NaCl abolished the activity of all the peptidoglycan hydrolases in the gel, but in the presence of KCl, MgCl2, MnCl 2 and EDTA some activity was retained. At basic pH the lytic activity increased. Conclusions: The autolytic phenotype of B. thuringiensis was found to be strain-dependent, and different proteins exibited peptidoglycan hydrolase activity, particularly at alkaline pH. Several of these proteins retained lytic activity against other bacterial species. Significance and Impact of the Study: The characterisation of the autolytic phenotype of B. thuringiensis should expand the prospects of using this species in bacterial bio-control and field applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-168
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Autolysis
  • Bacillus thuringiensis
  • Field persistence
  • Peptidoglycan
  • δ-endotoxin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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