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Annu Rev Microbiol. 1999;53:103-28.

Aerotaxis and other energy-sensing behavior in bacteria.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, School of Medicine, Loma Linda University, California 92350, USA.


Energy taxis is widespread in motile bacteria and in some species is the only known behavioral response. The bacteria monitor their cellular energy levels and respond to a decrease in energy by swimming to a microenvironment that reenergizes the cells. This is in contrast to classical Escherichia coli chemotaxis in which sensing of stimuli is independent of cellular metabolism. Energy taxis encompasses aerotaxis (taxis to oxygen), phototaxis, redox taxis, taxis to alternative electron acceptors, and chemotaxis to a carbon source. All of these responses share a common signal transduction pathway. An environmental stimulus, such as oxygen concentration or light intensity, modulates the flow of reducing equivalents through the electron transport system. A transducer senses the change in electron transport, or possibly a related parameter such as proton motive force, and initiates a signal that alters the direction of swimming. The Aer and Tsr proteins in E. coli are newly recognized transducers for energy taxis. Aer is homologous to E. coli chemoreceptors but unique in having a PAS domain and a flavin-adenine dinucleotide cofactor that is postulated to interact with a component of the electron transport system. PAS domains are energy-sensing modules that are found in proteins from archaea to humans. Tsr, the serine chemoreceptor, is an independent transducer for energy taxis, but its sensory mechanism is unknown. Energy taxis has a significant ecological role in vertical stratification of microorganisms in microbial mats and water columns. It plays a central role in the behavior of magnetotactic bacteria and also appears to be important in plant-microbe interactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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