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J Bacteriol. 1987 Dec;169(12):5801-7.

Involvement of transport in Rhodobacter sphaeroides chemotaxis.

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  • 1Department of Botany and Microbiology, University College London, London, United Kingdom.


The chemotactic response to a range of chemicals was investigated in the photosynthetic bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides, an organism known to lack conventional methyl-accepting sensory transduction proteins. Strong attractants included monocarboxylic acids and monovalent cations. Results suggest that the chemotactic response required the uptake of the chemoeffector, but not its metabolism. If a chemoeffector could block the uptake of another attractant, it also inhibited chemotaxis to that attractant. Sodium benzoate was not an attractant but was a competitive inhibitor of the propionate uptake system. Binding in an active uptake system was therefore insufficient to cause a chemotactic response. At different concentrations, benzoate either blocked propionate chemotaxis or reduced the sensitivity of propionate chemotaxis, an effect consistent with its role as a competitive inhibitor of uptake. Bacteria only showed chemotaxis to ammonium when grown under ammonia-limited conditions, which derepressed the ammonium transport system. Both chemotaxis and uptake were sensitive to the proton ionophore carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone, suggesting an involvement of the proton motive force in chemotaxis, at least at the level of transport. There was no evidence for internal pH as a sensory signal. These results suggest a requirement for the uptake of attractants in chemotactic sensing in R. sphaeroides.

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