General Information: Industrially important bacterium. Under starvation conditions this group of bacteria initiate a pathway that leads to endospore formation, a process that is thoroughly studied and is a model system for prokaryotic development and differentiation. Spores are highly resistant to heat, cold, dessication, radiation, and disinfectants, and enable the organism to persist in otherwise inhospitable environments. Under more inviting conditions the spores germinate to produce vegetative cells. This organism is a soil-dwelling endospore-forming microbe similar to other Bacilli. This bacterium is used extensively in the industrial production of important enzymes such as proteases, penicllinases, and amylases as well as smaller compounds like the antibiotic bacitracin and various organic metabolites. This organism is closely related to Bacillus subtilis on the basis of rRNA typing, and it has been found to occasionally cause illness in humans.