The presence of the gerE36 mutation in strains of Bacillus subtilis 168 resulted in poor germination of their spores in a range of germinants, as measured by the fall in absorbance of spore suspensions. Although resistant to heat and organic solvents, spores were sensitive to lysozyme; electron microscopy revealed that their coat structure was incomplete. These spores responded to germinants by losing heat resistance and changing from phase bright to phase gray. The release of dipicolinic acid and the fall in absorbance of spore suspensions reached only 75 and 50% of wild-type levels, respectively, but followed the same time course as the loss of heat resistance. Although the germination response was incomplete, the concentration of L-alanine required to elicit it was the same for the mutant as for the wild type. The properties of mutant spores suggest that an intact spore coat is not required for the initial interaction between germinant and spore, but that the coat layers may contain molecules important in later stages of germination. In transduction with phage SPP1, the gerE36 mutation mapped between citF and ilvB and was 90% cotransduced with citF2. The gerE mutation identifies the location of a gene important for the progress of late stages of spore formation
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