Embryo-Like Features in Developing Bacillus subtilis Biofilms
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2021

Correspondence between evolution and development has been discussed for more than two centuries. Recent work reveals that phylogeny-ontogeny correlations are indeed present in developmental transcriptomes of eukaryotic clades with complex multicellularity. Nevertheless, it has been largely ignored that the pervasive presence of phylogeny-ontogeny correlations is a hallmark of development in eukaryotes. This perspective opens a possibility to look for similar parallelisms in biological settings where developmental logic and multicellular complexity are more obscure. For instance, it has been increasingly recognized that multicellular behavior underlies biofilm formation in bacteria. However, it remains unclear whether bacterial biofilm growth shares some basic principles with development in complex eukaryotes. Here we show that the ontogeny of growing Bacillus subtilis biofilms recapitulates phylogeny at the expression level. Using time-resolved transcriptome and proteome profiles, we found that biofilm ontogeny correlates with the evolutionary measures, in a way that evolutionary younger and more diverged genes were increasingly expressed toward later timepoints of biofilm growth. Molecular and morphological signatures also revealed that biofilm growth is highly regulated and organized into discrete ontogenetic stages, analogous to those of eukaryotic embryos. Together, this suggests that biofilm formation in Bacillus is a bona fide developmental process comparable to organismal development in animals, plants, and fungi. Given that most cells on Earth reside in the form of biofilms and that biofilms represent the oldest known fossils, we anticipate that the widely adopted vision of the first life as a single-cell and free-living organism needs rethinking.

phylogeny-ontogeny correlations







Momir Futo

Ruđer Bošković Institute

Luka Opasic

Ruđer Bošković Institute


Sara Koska

Ruđer Bošković Institute

Nina Corak

Ruđer Bošković Institute

Tin Siroki

Sveučilište u Zagrebu

Vaishnavi Ravikumar

Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU)

Annika Thorsell

Göteborgs universitet

Masa Lenuzzi

Ruđer Bošković Institute


Domagoj Kifer

Sveučilište u Zagrebu

Mirjana Domazet-Loso

Sveučilište u Zagrebu

Kristian Vlahovicek

Högskolan i Skövde

Sveučilište u Zagrebu

Ivan Mijakovic

Chalmers, Biologi och bioteknik, Systembiologi

Tomislav Domazet-Loso

Ruđer Bošković Institute

Catholic University of Croatia

Molecular Biology and Evolution

0737-4038 (ISSN) 1537-1719 (eISSN)

Vol. 38 1 31-47




Medicinsk bioteknologi (med inriktning mot cellbiologi (inklusive stamcellsbiologi), molekylärbiologi, mikrobiologi, biokemi eller biofarmaci)





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