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We developed a new set of software tools that enable the speed and response kinetics of large numbers of tethered bacterial cells to be rapidly measured and analyzed. The software provides precision, accuracy, and a good signal-to-noise ratio combined with ease of data handling and processing. The software was tested on the single-cell chemosensory response kinetics of large numbers of Rhodobacter sphaeroides cells grown under either aerobic or photoheterotrophic conditions and either in chemostats or in batch cultures, allowing the effects of growth conditions on responses to be accurately measured. Aerobically and photoheterotrophically grown R. sphaeroides exhibited significantly different chemosensory response kinetics and cell-to-cell variability in their responses to 100 μM propionate. A greater proportion of the population of aerobically grown cells responded to a 100 μM step decrease in propionate; they adapted faster and showed less cell-to-cell variability than photosynthetic populations. Growth in chemostats did not significantly reduce the measured cell to cell variability but did change the adaptation kinetics for photoheterotrophically grown cells.

Original publication




Journal article


Appl Environ Microbiol

Publication Date





4082 - 4088


Aerobiosis, Chemotaxis, Heterotrophic Processes, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Microbiological Techniques, Propionates, Rhodobacter sphaeroides, Software