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J Bacteriol. Apr 1995; 177(7): 1683–1691.
PMCID: PMC176793

Tar-dependent and -independent pattern formation by Salmonella typhimurium.

Abstract

When Salmonella typhimurium cells were allowed to swarm on either a minimal or complex semisolid medium, patterns of cell aggregates were formed (depending on the thickness of the medium). No patterns were observed with nonchemotactic mutants. The patterns in a minimal medium were not formed by a mutant in the aspartate receptor for chemotaxis (Tar) or by wild-type cells in the presence of alpha-methyl-D,L-aspartate (an aspartate analog), thus resembling the patterns observed earlier in Escherichia coli (E. O. Budrene and H. C. Berg, Nature [London] 349:630-633, 1991) and S. typhimurium (E. O. Budrene and H. C. Berg, Abstracts of Conference II on Bacterial Locomotion and Signal Transduction, 1993). Distinctively, the patterns in a complex medium had a different morphology and, more importantly, were Tar independent. Furthermore, mutations in any one of the genes encoding the methyl-accepting chemotaxis receptors (tsr, tar, trg, or tcp) did not prevent the pattern formation. Addition of saturating concentrations of the ligands of these receptors to wild-type cells did not prevent the pattern formation as well. A tar tsr tcp triple mutant also formed the patterns. Similar results (no negative effect on pattern formation) were obtained with a ptsI mutant (defective in chemotaxis mediated by the phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent carbohydrate:phosphotransferase system [PTS]) and with addition of mannitol (a PTS ligand) to wild-type cells. It therefore appears that at least two different pathways are involved in the patterns formed by S. typhimurium: Tar dependent and Tar independent. Like the Tar-dependent patterns observed by Budrene and Berg, the Tar-independent patterns could be triggered by H(2)O(2), suggesting that both pathways of pattern formation may be triggered by oxidative stress.

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