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Effect of Amino Acids and Oxygen on Chemotaxis in Escherichia coli

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  • Microbial Physiology And Metabolism
  • Biology


Adler, Julius (University of Wisconsin, Madison). Effect of amino acids and oxygen on chemotaxis in Escherichia coli. J. Bacteriol. 92:121–129. 1966.—Motile cells of Escherichia coli placed at one end of a capillary tube containing a mixture of the 20 amino acids commonly found in proteins migrate out into the tube in two bands. The bands are clearly visible to the naked eye, and they can also be demonstrated by microscopy, photography, and densitometry, and by assaying for bacteria throughout the tube. The occurrence of more than one band is not due to heterogeneity among the bacteria, since each band can be used over to give rise to two again. The first band uses all the oxygen to oxidize portions of one or more of the amino acids, including serine, and the second band consumes the residual serine anaerobically. The results are interpreted to mean that E. coli shows chemotaxis toward oxygen and serine. When no energy source is added to the medium, a band of bacteria still appears. It consumes all the oxygen to oxidize an endogenous energy source. The addition of any one of 10 oxidizable amino acids stimulates the rate of travel of this band. Alanine, an example that was studied in detail, supports such a band that consumes all the oxygen to oxidize a portion of the alanine. Serine, the only amino acid that this strain can use either aerobically or anaerobically when grown under the conditions used here, gives rise to two bands.

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