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Mechanism of bidirectional thermotaxis in Escherichia coli

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Paulick,  A.
Microbial Networks, Department of Systems and Synthetic Microbiology, Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Max Planck Society;
Center for Synthetic Microbiology (SYNMIKRO);

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Sourjik,  V.
Microbial Networks, Department of Systems and Synthetic Microbiology, Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Max Planck Society;
Center for Synthetic Microbiology (SYNMIKRO);
DKFZ-ZMBH Alliance, Centre for Molecular Biology, Heidelberg;

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Citation

Paulick, A., Jakovljevic, V., Zhang, S., Erickstad, M., Groisman, A., Meir, Y., et al. (2017). Mechanism of bidirectional thermotaxis in Escherichia coli. eLife, 6: e26607. doi:10.7554/elife.26607.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-BAE5-5
Abstract
In bacteria various tactic responses are mediated by the same cellular pathway, but sensing of physical stimuli remains poorly understood. Here, we combine an in-vivo analysis of the pathway activity with a microfluidic taxis assay and mathematical modeling to investigate the thermotactic response of Escherichia coli. We show that in the absence of chemical attractants E. coli exhibits a steady thermophilic response, the magnitude of which decreases at higher temperatures. Adaptation of wild-type cells to high levels of chemoattractants sensed by only one of the major chemoreceptors leads to inversion of the thermotactic response at intermediate temperatures and bidirectional cell accumulation in a thermal gradient. A mathematical model can explain this behavior based on the saturation-dependent kinetics of adaptive receptor methylation. Lastly, we find that the preferred accumulation temperature corresponds to optimal growth in the presence of the chemoattractant serine, pointing to a physiological relevance of the observed thermotactic behavior.