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Rhodobacter sphaeroides cells were tethered by their flagella and subjected to increasing and decreasing nutrient gradients. Using motion analysis, changes in flagellar motor rotation were measured and the responses of the cells to the chemotactic gradients were determined. The steepness and concentration ranges of increasing and decreasing gradients were varied, and the bacterial responses were measured. This allowed the limits of gradients that would invoke changes in flagellar behavior to be determined and thus predicts the nature of gradients that would evoke chemotaxis in the environment. The sensory threshold was measured at 30 nM, and the response showed saturation at 150 microM. The study determined that cells detected and responded to changing concentration rates as low as 1 nM/s for acetate and 5 nM/s for succinate. The complex sensory system of R. sphaeroides responded to both increasing and decreasing concentration gradients of attractant with different sensitivities. In addition, transition phases involving changes in the motor speed and the smoothness of motor rotation were found.


Journal article


Appl Environ Microbiol

Publication Date





5186 - 5191


Acetic Acid, Chemotaxis, Flagella, Kinetics, Molecular Motor Proteins, Rhodobacter sphaeroides, Rotation, Succinic Acid