Transposon mutagenesis was employed to isolate the gene(s) related with the biosynthesis of dipeptide antibiotic in Bacillus subtilis PY79 (a prototrophic derivative of the standard 168 strain). The blocked mutants were phenotypically selected from the transposon library by bioassay and the complete loss of biosynthetic ability was verified through ESI-mass spectrometry analysis. Four different bacilysin nonproducer mutants (Bac(-): :Tn10(ori-spc)) were isolated from the transposon library. The genes involved in bacilysin biosynthesis were identified as thyA (thymidilate synthetase), ybgG (unknown; similar to homocysteine methyl transferase) and oppA (oligopeptide permease), respectively. The other blocked gene was yvgW (unknown; similar to heavy metal-transporting ATPase): however, backcross studies did not verify its involvement in bacilysin biosynthesis. This gene, on the other hand. appeared to be necessary for efficient sporulation and transformation. Opp involvement was significant as it suggested that bacilysin biosynthesis is under or a component of the quorum sensing pathway which has been shown to be responsible for the establishment of sporulation, competence development and onset of surfactin biosynthesis. For verification, it was necessary to check the involvement of peptide pheromones (PhrA or PhrC) internalized by the Opp system and response regulator ComA as the essential components of this global control. phrA, phrC and comA deleted mutants of PY79 were thus constructed and the latter two genes were shown to be essential for bacilysin biosynthesis. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.