Application of a Bacillus subtilis Whole-Cell Biosensor (PliaI-lux) for the Identification of Cell Wall Active Antibacterial Compounds

Susanne Gebhard

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

1 Citation (SciVal)


Whole-cell biosensors, based on the visualization of a reporter strain’s response to a particular stimulus, are a robust and cost-effective means to monitor defined environmental conditions or the presence of chemical compounds. One specific field in which such biosensors are frequently applied is drug discovery, that is, the screening of large numbers of bacterial or fungal strains for the production of antimicrobial compounds. Here, we describe the application of a luminescence-based Bacillus subtilis biosensor for the discovery of cell wall active substances; this article is an update to our previous chapter published in 2017. The system is based on the well-characterized promoter P liaI, which is induced in response to a wide range of conditions that cause cell envelope stress, particularly antibiotics that interfere with the membrane-anchored steps of cell wall biosynthesis. A simple “spot-on-lawn” assay, where colonies of potential producer strains are grown directly on a lawn of the reporter strain, allows for quantitative and time-resolved detection of antimicrobial compounds. Due to the very low technical demands of this procedure, we expect it to be easily applicable to a large variety of candidate producer strains and growth conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAntibiotics
Subtitle of host publication Methods and Protocols
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2022

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press
ISSN (Print)1064-3745

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Antibiotic
  • Antimicrobial peptide
  • Bioassay
  • Cell envelope stress
  • Cell wall
  • Lipid II cycle
  • Luminescence
  • Reporter gene
  • Stress response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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