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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Cellobiose chemotaxis by the cellulolytic bacterium Cellulomonas gelida.

In the course of a study on the bacterial degradation of plant cell wall polysaccharides, we observed that growing cells of motile cellulolytic bacteria accumulated, without attachment, near cellulose fibers present in the cultures. Because it seemed likely that the accumulation was due to chemotactic behavior, we investigated the chemotactic responses of one of the above-mentioned bacteria (Cellulomonas gelida ATCC 488). We studied primarily the responses toward cellobiose, which is the major product of cellulose hydrolysis by microorganisms, and toward hemicellulose hydrolysis products. We found that cellobiose, cellotriose, D-glucose, xylobiose, and D-xylose, as well as other sugars that are hemicellulose components, served as chemoattractants for C. gelida, as determined by a modification of Adler's capillary assay. Competition and inducibility experiments indicated that C. gelida possesses at least two types of separately regulated cellobiose chemoreceptors (Cb1 and cellobiose, cellotriose, xylobiose, and D-glucose, and it is constitutively synthesized. The presence in C. gelida of a constitutive response toward cellobiose and of at least two distinct cellobiose chemoreceptors has implications for the survival of this cellulolytic bacterium in nature. A possible mechanism for cellobiose-mediated bacterial chemotaxis toward cellulose is proposed. We suggest that, in natural environments, motile cellulolytic bacteria migrate toward plant materials that contain cellulose and hemicellulose by swimming up cellobiose concentration gradients and/or concentration gradients of other sugars (e.g., xylobiose, D-xylose, and D-glucose) formed by enzymatic hydrolysis of plant cell wall polysaccharides.[1]


  1. Cellobiose chemotaxis by the cellulolytic bacterium Cellulomonas gelida. Hsing, W., Canale-Parola, E. J. Bacteriol. (1992) [Pubmed]
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