An extensive literature has established that the synthesis of wall teichoic acid in
Bacillus subtilisis essential for cell viability. Paradoxically, we have recently shown that wall teichoic acid biogenesis is dispensable in Staphylococcus aureus(M. A. D'Elia, M. P. Pereira, Y. S. Chung, W. Zhao, A. Chau, T. J. Kenney, M. C. Sulavik, T. A. Black, and E. D. Brown, J. Bacteriol. 188:4183-4189, 2006). A complex pattern of teichoic acid gene dispensability was seen in S. aureuswhere the first gene ( tarO) was dispensable and later acting genes showed an indispensable phenotype. Here we show, for the first time, that wall teichoic acid synthesis is also dispensable in B. subtilisand that a similar gene dispensability pattern is seen where later acting enzymes display an essential phenotype, while the gene tagO, whose product catalyzes the first step in the pathway, could be deleted to yield viable mutants devoid of teichoic acid in the cell wall.