The Bacillus subtilis genome comprises two paralogous single-stranded DNA binding protein (SSB) genes, ssb and ywpH, which show distinct expression patterns. The main ssb gene is strongly expressed during exponential growth and is coregulated with genes encoding the ribosomal proteins S6 and S18. The gene organization rpsF-ssb-rpsR as observed in B. subtilis is found in many gram-positive as well as some gram-negative bacteria, but not in Escherichia coli. The ssb gene is essential for cell viability, and like other SSBs its expression is elevated during SOS response. In contrast, the paralogous ywpH gene is transcribed from its own promoter at the onset of stationary phase in minimal medium only. Its expression is ComK dependent and its gene product is required for optimal natural transformation.