Acrylonitrile (AN) is an industrial chemical used in the manufacture of plastics and other polymers. AN has been reported to be an acute toxin and is a known carcinogen in rodents. When AN was mixed with suspensions of Bacillus subtilis, the bacteria began autolysis. It was determined that AN is partially converted to cyanide, a strong protonophore in B. subtilis. Autolytic enzymes in B. subtilis become active when the protonmotive force is dissipated. The amount of cyanide produced from AN, however, was not enough to promote autolysis in exponential B. subtilis. This is the first report showing that AN may induce autolytic reactions in bacteria. It is suggested the autolysis of B. subtilis may be useful in the environmental monitoring of AN. In addition, the metabolism of AN by bacilli may be useful in bioremediation. Copyright (C) 2000 Federation of European Microbiological Societies.
Reyes, G. F., Corbett, D., Benz, F. W., & Doyle, R. J. (2000). Acrylonitrile induces autolysis Bacillus subtilis. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 182(2), 255–258. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-1097(99)00551-0