Cannibals Defy Starvation and Avoid Sporulation

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Science  25 Jul 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5632, pp. 467-468
DOI: 10.1126/science.1088051

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When faced with declining nutrients, many bacteria enter sporulation so that their spores can be distributed to other areas that may be nutrient-rich. In their Perspective, Engelberg-Kulka and Hazan discuss a fascinating new study ( González-Pastor et al.) revealing that in Bacillus subtilis a subpopulation of bacterial cells avoid sporulation by inducing some of their comrades to die and then feeding on the released nutrients.