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J Bacteriol. Oct 1993; 175(19): 6238–6244.
PMCID: PMC206719

Multiple factors underlying the maximum motility of Escherichia coli as cultures enter post-exponential growth.


Motility and chemotaxis allow cells to move away from stressful microenvironments. Motility of Escherichia coli in batch cultures, as measured by cell swimming speed, was low in early-exponential-phase cells, peaked as the cells entered post-exponential phase, and declined into early stationary phase. Transcription from the flhB operon and synthesis of flagellin protein similarly peaked in late exponential and early post-exponential phases, respectively. The increase in swimming speed between early-exponential and post-exponential phases was correlated with twofold increases in both flagellar length and flagellar density per cell volume. This increased investment in flagella probably reflects the increased adaptive value of motility in less favorable environments. The decrease in speed between post-exponential and stationary phases was correlated with a threefold decrease in torque produced by the flagellar motors and presumably reflects decreased proton motive force available to stationary-phase cells.

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Selected References

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