Transmating: Conjugative transfer of a new broad host range expression vector to various Bacillus species using a single protocol

Simon Heinze, Petra Kornberger, Christian Grätz, Wolfgang H. Schwarz, Vladimir V. Zverlov, Wolfgang Liebl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: The genus Bacillus includes a great variety of species with potential applications in biotechnology. While species such as B. subtilis or B. licheniformis are well-known and used to provide various products at industrial scale, other Bacillus species are less characterized and are not yet used in commercial processes. One reason for this is the fact that genetic manipulation of new isolates is usually complicated with conventional techniques which have to be adapted to each new strain. Even in well-established strains, the available transformation protocols often suffer from low efficiencies. Results: In this paper, we provide a new broad host range E. coli/Bacillus shuttle vector, named pBACOV (B acillus conjugation vector), that can be efficiently transferred to various Bacillus species using a single protocol. A variant of pBACOV carrying the sfGFP gene was successfully transferred to eight different species from the genus Bacillus and to one Paenibacillus species using triparental conjugation ("transmating"). This was achieved using a single protocol and worked for nine out of eleven tested acceptor species. The transmating procedure was used to test expression of the heterologous reporter gene sfGFP under control of the PaprE-promoter from B. subtilis in several Bacillus species in parallel. Expression of sfGFP was found in eight out of nine transmates. For several of the tested species, this is the first report of a method for genetic modification and heterologous gene expression. The expression level, analyzed by measuring the relative sfGFP-fluorescence normalized to the cell density of the cultures, was highest in B. mojavensis. Conclusions: The new shuttle vector pBACOV can be transferred to many different Bacillus and Paenibacillus species using a simple and efficient transmating protocol. It is a versatile tool facilitating the application of recombinant DNA technology in new as well as established strains, or selection of an ideal host for heterologous gene expression from a multitude of strains. This paves the way for the genetic modification and biotechnological exploitation of the broad diversity of species of Bacillus and related genera as well as different strains from these species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number56
JournalBMC Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 8 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacillus
  • Broad host range
  • Genetic modification
  • Heterologous expression
  • Paenibacillus
  • Plasmid transfer
  • Shuttle vector
  • Transmating
  • Triparental conjugation
  • sfGFP


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