Norspermidine is not a self-produced trigger for biofilm disassembly

Laura Hobley, Sok Ho Kim, Yukari Maezato, Susan Wyllie, Alan H. Fairlamb, Nicola R. Stanley-Wall, Anthony J. Michael

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Formation of Bacillus subtilis biofilms, consisting of cells encapsulated within an extracellular matrix of exopolysaccharide and protein, requires the polyamine spermidine. A recent study reported that (1) related polyamine norspermidine is synthesized by B. subtilis using the equivalent of the Vibrio cholerae biosynthetic pathway, (2) exogenous norspermidine at 25 μM prevents B. subtilis biofilm formation, (3) endogenous norspermidine is present in biofilms at 50-80 μM, and (4) norspermidine prevents biofilm formation by condensing biofilm exopolysaccharide. In contrast, we find that, at concentrations up to 200 μM, exogenous norspermidine promotes biofilm formation. We find that norspermidine is absent in wild-type B. subtilis biofilms at all stages, and higher concentrations of exogenous norspermidine eventually inhibit planktonic growth and biofilm formation in an exopolysaccharide-independent manner. Moreover, orthologs of the V. cholerae norspermidine biosynthetic pathway are absent from B. subtilis, confirming that norspermidine is not physiologically relevant to biofilm function in this species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)844-854
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 13 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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