Polyhydroxyalkanoate biosynthesis in Bacillus cereus SPV under varied limiting conditions and an insight into the biosynthetic genes involved.
Parental strains and asporogenous mutants of Bacillus thuringiensis subspp. kurstaki and aizawai produced high yields of delta-endotoxin on M medium, which contained 330 mug of potassium per ml, but not on ST and ST-a media, each of which contained only 11 mug of potassium per ml. On ST and ST-a media, refractile granules were formed instead. These granules had no insecticidal activity against silkworms and were isolated and identified as poly-beta-hydroxybutyric acid. Supplementation of the potassium-deficient ST-a medium with 0.1% KH(2)PO(4) (3.7 mM) led to the formation of crystalline delta-endotoxin. The replacement of KH(2)PO(4) with equimolar amounts of KCl, KNO(3), and potassium acetate or an equivalent amount of K(2)SO(4) had a similar effect, whereas the addition of an equimolar amount of NaH(2)PO(4) or NH(4)H(2)PO(4) did not cause the endotoxin to form. An asporogenous mutant, B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki strain 290-1, produced delta-endotoxin on ST-a medium supplemented with 3 mM or more potassium but formed only poly-beta-hydroxybutyric acid granules on the media containing </=1 mM potassium. These results clearly indicate that a certain concentration of potassium is essential for the fermentative production of delta-endotoxin by these isolates of B. thuringiensis. Manganese could not be substituted for potassium. Phosphate ions stimulated poly-beta-hydroxybutyric acid formation by strain 290-1. The sporulation of B. thuringiensis and several other Bacillus strains was suppressed on the potassium-deficient ST medium. This suggests that potassium plays an essential role not only in Bacillus cell growth and delta-endotoxin formation but also in sporulation.