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Future Microbiol. 2009 Nov;4(9):1137-49. doi: 10.2217/fmb.09.76.

Motility and chemotaxis in alkaliphilic Bacillus species.

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NITE Bioresource Information Center, Department of Biotechnology, National Institute of Technology and Evaluation, Nishihara, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan.


Alkaliphilic Bacillus species grow at pH values up to approximately 11. Motile alkaliphilic Bacillus use electrochemical gradients of Na(+) (sodium-motive force) to power ion-coupled, flagella-mediated motility as opposed to the electrochemical gradients of H(+) (proton-motive force) used by most neutralophilic bacteria. Membrane-embedded stators of bacterial flagella contain ion channels through which either H(+) or Na(+) flow to energize flagellar rotation. Stators of the major H(+)-coupled type, MotAB, are distinguishable from Na(+)-coupled stators, PomAB of marine bacteria and MotPS of alkaliphilic Bacillus. Dual ion-coupling capacity is found in neutralophilic Bacillus strains with both MotAB and MotPS. There is also a MotAB variant that uses both coupling ions, switching as a function of pH. Chemotaxis of alkaliphilic Bacillus depends upon flagellar motility but also requires a distinct voltage-gated NaChBac-type channel. The two alkaliphile Na(+) channels provide new vistas on the diverse adaptations of sensory responses in bacteria.

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