A complex path for domestication of B. subtilis sociality
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Microorganisms adapt to the lab environment by eliminating unnecessary genetic systems. In Bacillus subtilis, such adaptation resulted in the lab strain being unable to form complex, matrix-associated structures known as biofilms. We recently showed that the ancestor of the lab strain, which is considered by the research community to be a stereotypical ‘wild’ strain, carries an atypical mutation in the RapP–PhrP quorum-sensing system. We have found that this mutation has profound effects on the biofilm phenotype of the ancestral strain. Here we discuss these recent findings and present more data that focuses on the lessons that can be learned from this work on the domestication of microorganisms.