Streptomycetes are very important industrial bacteria, which produce two thirds of all clinically relevant secondary metabolites. Furthermore, they produce large numbers of eukaryotic cell differentiation and apoptosis inducers. Streptomyces is a mycelial soil bacterium characterized by a complex developmental cycle that includes programmed cell death (PCD) phenomena and sporulation in solid cultures. Industrial fermentations are usually performed in liquid cultures, conditions in which Streptomyces strains generally do not sporulate, and it was traditionally assumed that there was no differentiation. Recently, novel aspects concerning differentiation during the presporulation phases were described in solid and liquid cultures, as well as in natural soils. In this review, we analyze the status of knowledge regarding the above-named aspects of Streptomyces differentiation and their relationships with secondary metabolite production.
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