Identification of L-Valine-initiated-germination-active genes in Bacillus subtilis using Tn-seq

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Bacterial endospores can survive harsh environmental conditions and long-term dormancy in the absence of nutrients, but can rapidly germinate under favorable conditions. In the present study, we employed transposon sequencing (Tn-seq) to identify genes with previously uncharacterized roles in spore germination. Identified genes that encoded spore inner membrane proteins were chosen for study of defined mutants, which exhibited delayed germination in several assays in response to varying germinants. Significantly slowed release of DPA indicated that mutants were affected in Stage I of germination. Several mutants exhibited phenotypic traits consistent with failure of a GerA germinant receptor-mediated response, while others appeared to have a more general loss of response to varied germinants. Use of a gerA-lacZ transcriptional fusion and quantitative western blotting of GerAC allowed mutants to be classified based upon normal or decreased gerA transcription and normal or reduced GerA accumulation. Fourteen genes were identified to have newly described roles within Bacillus spore germination. A more complete understanding of this process can contribute to the development of better spore decontamination procedures.