Research ArticleBIOPHYSICS

Chemotaxis strategies of bacteria with multiple run modes

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Science Advances  27 May 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 22, eaaz6153
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz6153


Bacterial chemotaxis—a fundamental example of directional navigation in the living world—is key to many biological processes, including the spreading of bacterial infections. Many bacterial species were recently reported to exhibit several distinct swimming modes—the flagella may, for example, push the cell body or wrap around it. How do the different run modes shape the chemotaxis strategy of a multimode swimmer? Here, we investigate chemotactic motion of the soil bacterium Pseudomonas putida as a model organism. By simultaneously tracking the position of the cell body and the configuration of its flagella, we demonstrate that individual run modes show different chemotactic responses in nutrition gradients and, thus, constitute distinct behavioral states. On the basis of an active particle model, we demonstrate that switching between multiple run states that differ in their speed and responsiveness provides the basis for robust and efficient chemotaxis in complex natural habitats.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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