Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

In contrast to enteric bacteria, chemotaxis in Rhodobacter sphaeroides requires transport and partial metabolism of chemoattractants. Although a chemotaxis operon has been identified containing homologues of the enteric cheA, cheW, cheR genes and two homologues of the cheY gene, deletion of the entire chemotaxis operon had only minor effects on chemotactic behaviour under the conditions tested. Responses to sugars were enhanced in tethered cells but in all other chemotaxis assays behaviour of the operon deletion mutant was wild type. The mutant also showed wild-type responses to weak organic acids such as acetate and propionate, the dominant chemoattractants for this organism, under all conditions. This is in direct contrast to the enterics in which CheA, CheW and CheY are absolutely essential for taxis to PTS sugars, oxygen and MCP-dependent chemoeffectors. The operon deletion mutant was subjected to Tn5 transposon mutagenesis and new mutants selected using a chemotaxis and phototaxis screen. One mutant, JPA203, was non-chemotactic on swarm plates and showed inverted responses when tethered or subjected to changes in light intensity. Characterization of the Tn5 insertion in JPA203 identified a second chemotaxis operon in R. sphaeroides that contains homologues of cheY, cheA and cheR, the first homologue of cheB and two homologues of cheW. The new genes were labelled orf10, cheY(III), cheA(II) cheW(II), cheW(III), cheR(II), cheB and tlpC. When introduced into a wild-type background, deletion of cheA(II) produced a chemotaxis minus phenotype in R. sphaeroides, suggesting that cheA(II) forms part of a dominant chemotactic pathway, whereas the earlier identified operon plays only a minor role under laboratory conditions. The data presented here support the existence of two chemosensory pathways in R. sphaeroides, a feature that so far is unique in bacterial chemotaxis.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Microbiol

Publication Date





1083 - 1096


Amino Acid Sequence, Bacterial Proteins, Base Sequence, Chemotaxis, Cloning, Molecular, DNA Transposable Elements, DNA, Bacterial, Gene Deletion, Genotype, Membrane Proteins, Methyl-Accepting Chemotaxis Proteins, Methyltransferases, Molecular Sequence Data, Mutagenesis, Insertional, Operon, Phenotype, Protein Kinases, Rhodobacter sphaeroides, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid