Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Osmotaxis in Escherichia coli
Author: Rosko, Jerko
ISNI:       0000 0004 7224 9323
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2017
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
Bacterial motility, and in particular repulsion or attraction towards specific chemicals, has been a subject of investigation for over 100 years, resulting in detailed understanding of bacterial chemotaxis and the corresponding sensory network in many bacterial species including Escherichia coli. E. Coli swims by rotating a bundle of flagellar filaments, each powered by an individual rotary motor located in the cell membrane. When all motors rotate counter-clockwise (CCW), a stable bundle forms and propels the cell forward. When one or more motors switch to clock-wise (CW) rotation, their respective filaments fall out of the bundle, leading to the cell changing orientation. Upon switching back to CCW, the bundle reforms and propels the cell in a new direction. Chemotaxis is performed by the bacterium through prolonging runs by suppressing CW rotation when moving towards nutrients and facilitating reorientation by increasing CW bias when close to a source of a harmful substance. Chemicals are sensed through interaction with membrane bound chemosensors. These proteins can interact with a very specific set of chemicals and the concentrations they are able to sense are in the range between 10-⁶ and 10-² M. However, experiments have shown that the osmotic pressure exerted by large (> 10-¹ M) concentrations of solutes, which have no specificity for binding to chemosensors (e.g. sucrose), is able to send a signal down the chemotactic network. Additionally, clearing of bacterial density away from sources of high osmolarity has been previously observed in experiments with agar plates. This behaviour has been termed osmotaxis. The aim of this doctoral thesis work is to understand how different environmental cues influence the tactic response and ultimately, combine at the network output to direct bacterial swimming. As tactic responses to chemical stimuli have been extensively studied, I focus purely on the response to non-specific osmotic stimuli, using sucrose to elevate osmolarity. I monitor the chemotactic network output, the rotation of a single bacterial flagellar motor, using Back Focal Plane Interferometry over a variety of osmotic conditions. Additionally, in collaboration with Vincent Martinez, I studied the effect of elevated osmolality on swimming speed of large (104) bacterial populations, using differential dynamic microscopy (DDM). I have found that sudden increases in media osmolarity lead to changes of both motor speed and motor clockwise bias, which is the fraction of time it spends rotating clockwise. Changes in CW Bias proceed in two phases. Initially, after elevating the osmolarity, CW Bias drops to zero, indicating that the motor is exclusively in the ‘cell run’ mode. This phase lasts from 2-5 minutes depending on the magnitude of the change in solute concentration. What follows then is a distinct second phase where the CW Bias is elevated with respect to the initial levels and this phase lasts longer than 15-20 minutes. In comparison, for defined chemical stimuli, the motor output resets after several seconds, a behaviour termed perfect adaptation. For changes of 100 mOsm/kg and 200 mOsm/kg in magnitude the motors speed up, often by as much as a factor of two, before experiencing a gradual slow down. Despite the slow down, motors still rotate faster 15-20 minutes after the change in osmolarity, than they did before. For changes of 400 mOsm/Kg in magnitude the motors decrease sharply in speed, coming to a near halt, recovering after 5 minutes and eventually, on average, speeding up. DDM studies of free swimming bacteria have shown that elevated osmolality leads to higher swimming speeds, in agreement with single motor data. Using theoretical models of bacterial swimming from the literature, it is discussed how this motor output, although different to what is expected for chemotaxis, is able to drive bacteria away from regions of space with high osmolalities. Additionally, I have started extending the work done with sucrose, to another solute often used to elevate osmolality, sodium chloride. While sucrose is outer membrane impermeable, NaCl can cross the outer membrane into the periplasmic space. Another layer of complexity is that NaCl has some specificty for the chemoreceptors. The preliminary results are shown and qualitatively agree with those obtain with sucrose.
Supervisor: Pilizota, Teuta ; El Karoui, Meriem Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: bacterial motility ; chemotaxis ; osmotaxis ; bacterial flagellar motor ; back-focal plane interferometry ; differential dynamic microscopy