Biotech Updates

Bacillus Subtilis not Always a Good Bacterium, Scientists Reveal

September 26, 2012

The soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis, often described by scientists as a beneficial bacterium especially on plants may not be as good as most scientific literature pose it to be. A recent study by the Delaware Biotechnology Institute (DBI) of the University of Delaware revealed that a power struggle ensues as the plant and the 'good' bacteria vie over who will control the plant's immune system. This happens as B. subtilis produces a small antimicrobial protein that suppresses the root defense response momentarily.

Harsh Bais, University of Delaware's assistant professor of plant and soil sciences, explained that for the brief period when the 'beneficial' soil bacterium B. subtilis is associated with the plant, the bacterium hijacks the plant's immune system. Bais further explained that they have not determined yet how long these bacteria could suppress the plant immune response, but they are aware that there is a very strong warfare underground.

View DBI's news release at