Bacillus subtilis, the reference organism for Gram-positive bacteria, has been extensively studied over the last half century. A considerable number of data on its cell biology, biochemistry and genetics are presently available. In addition to the profound difference at the level of the cell surface, B. subtilis differs from Escherichia coli, the reference Gram-negative organism, among others by its capacity to form endospores.
One of our main interests is the study of the B. subtilis envelope, which is more or less directly coupled to a number of processes: cell growth and morphogenesis, cell division, genome segregation, interactions between the cell and its environment and movement of materials into and out of the cell. A special attention is paid to wall teichoic acids (WTAs), the essential polymers representing nearly half of the cell wall mass.
WTAs remain an important subject for both fundamental and applied research. In view of the ever increasing spread of multiple antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria, WTAs represent an alternative target in the fight against infectious diseases. Development of drugs capable of inhibiting the synthesis of WTAs or their incorporation into the cell wall requires a solid knowledge of the genetics and biochemistry of WTAs.