Profiling for Bioactive Peptides and Volatiles of Plant Growth Promoting Strains of the Bacillus subtilis Complex of Industrial Relevance

Pascal Mülner, Elisa Schwarz, Kristin Dietel, Helmut Junge, Stefanie Herfort, Max Weydmann, Peter Lasch, Tomislav Cernava, Gabriele Berg, Joachim Vater*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria attain increasing importance in agriculture as biofertilizers and biocontrol agents. These properties significantly depend on the formation of bioactive compounds produced by such organisms. In our work we investigated the biosynthetic potential of 13 industrially important strains of the Bacillus subtilis complex by mass spectrometric methodology. Typing of these organisms was performed with MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry followed by comprehensive profiling of their bioactive peptide products. Volatiles were determined by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Representative products of the members of the B. subtilis complex investigated in detail were: the surfactin familiy (surfactins, lichenysins, pumilacidins); the iturin family (iturins, mycosubtilins and bacillomycins); plantazolicin and the dual lantibiotics lichenicidins, as well as a wide spectrum of volatiles, such as hydrocarbons (alkanes/alkenes), alcohols, ketones, sulfur-containing compounds and pyrazines. The subcomplexes of the B. subtilis organizational unit; (a) B. subtilis/Bacillus atrophaeus; (b) B. amyloliquefaciens/B. velezensis; (c) B. licheniformis, and (d) B. pumilus are equipped with specific sets of these compounds which are the basis for the evaluation of their biotechnological and agricultural usage. The 13 test strains were evaluated in field trials for growth promotion of potato and maize plants. All of the implemented strains showed efficient growth stimulation of these plants. The highest effects were obtained with B. velezensis, B. subtilis, and B. atrophaeus strains.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1432
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020


  • bioactive peptides
  • field trials
  • GC-MS
  • MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry
  • plant growth promoting rhizobacteria
  • volatiles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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