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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2001 Nov 5;75(3):292-304.

Quantification of random motility and chemotaxis bacterial transport coefficients using individual-cell and population-scale assays.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia, 102 Engineers' Way, P.O. Box 400741, Charlottesville, Virginia 22904-4741, USA.


A number of individual-cell and population-scale assays have been introduced to quantify bacterial motility and chemotaxis. The transport coefficients reported in the literature, however, span several orders of magnitude, making it difficult to ascertain to what degree variations in bacterial species/strain, growth medium, growth and experimental conditions, and experiment type contribute to the reported differences in coefficient values. We quantified the random motility of Escherichia coli AW405 using the capillary assay, stopped-flow diffusion chamber (SFDC), and tracking microscope. We obtained good agreement for the random motility coefficient between these assays when using the same bacterial strain and consistent growth and experimental conditions. Chemotaxis of E. coli toward the attractant alpha-methylaspartate was quantified using the SFDC and capillary assay. Good agreement for the chemotactic sensitivity coefficient between the SFDC and the capillary assay was obtained across a limited attractant concentration range. Three different mathematical models were considered for analyzing capillary assay data to obtain a chemotactic sensitivity coefficient. These models differed by their treatment of the bacterial concentration in the chamber and the attractant concentration at the mouth. Results from our study indicate that the capillary assay, the most commonly used bacterial random motility and chemotaxis assay, can be used to accurately quantify bacterial transport coefficients over a limited range of attractant concentrations, provided experiments are performed carefully and appropriate mathematical models are used to interpret the experimental data.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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