Factors contributing to helical shape determination and maintenance in Bacillus subtilis macrofibres

N. H. Mendelson, J. J. Thwaites, D. Favre, U. Surana, M. M. Briehl, A. Wolfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Bacillus subtilis, normally a rod-shaped organism, can grow in the form of a helix with pitch ranging over a spectrum from tight right-handed to tight left-handed depending upon the growth environment and genetic composition of the strain. Five factors have been identified which contribute either to the helical shape deformation or its maintenance: 1) a biomechanical component involving blocked rotation during growth; 2) cell wall polymer conformation; 3) a protein(s) concerned with the left-hand form produced at high temperature; 4) electrostatic aspects of the cell wall; and 5) water, as it affects the mechanical properties of cell walls and the structure of cell wall polymers. The findings are compatible with a model in which the cell wall polymers are inserted in helical orientation along the cylindrical portion of the cell during growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-103
Number of pages5
JournalAnnales de l'Institut Pasteur Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1985


  • Bacillus subtilis, Macrofibre, Bacterial morphogenesis
  • Bacillus subtilis, Macrofibre, Morphogenèse bactérienne
  • Helix, Polymer, Mechanics
  • Hélice, Polymères, Mécanique

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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