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.

The behavioural response of Rhodobacter sphaeroides to temporal changes in the concentration of chemoeffectors, and to stimuli affecting electron transport, was analysed using tethered cells. Populations of photosynthetically grown tethered cells of R. sphaeroides showed a transient response, a stop followed by adaptation, to a stepwise reduction in the concentration of chemoattractants (such as organic acids or sugars) and terminal electron acceptors. A step-down response was also measured in free swimming cells to a reduction in light intensity. As this response appears to apply to all effectors this suggests that there is a sensory pathway in anaerobically grown R. sphaeroides which responds primarily to a reduction in a stimulus. R. sphaeroides therefore responds when moving down a concentration gradient. This is the inverse of the classical Escherichia coli-Salmonella typhimurium model of bacterial sensory behaviour in which bacteria respond primarily when there is an increase in an attractant concentration, i.e. when moving up a gradient. R. sphaeroides does show a chemokinetic response to an increase in concentration of a limited number of compounds but this response is sustained and accompanied by an increase in the rate of flagellar rotation and therefore not simply equivalent to the transient increase in smooth swimming measured in E. coli on addition of an attractant.

Original publication




Journal article


Microbiology (Reading)

Publication Date



142 ( Pt 3)


593 - 599


Chemotaxis, Escherichia coli, Light, Rhodobacter sphaeroides, Salmonella typhimurium