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  1. Bacterial chemotaxis is the directed movement of motile bacteria in gradients of chemoeffectors. This behavior is mediated by dedicated signal transduction pathways that couple environment sensing with changes in the direction of rotation of flagellar motors to ultimately affect the motility pattern. Azospirillum brasilense uses two distinct chemotaxis pathways, named Che1 and Che4, and four different response regulators (CheY1, CheY4, CheY6, and CheY7) to control the swimming pattern during chemotaxis. Each of the CheY homologs was shown to differentially affect the rotational bias of the polar flagellum and chemotaxis. The role, if any, of these CheY homologs in swarming, whichmore »depends on a distinct lateral flagella system or in attachment is not known. Here, we characterize CheY homologs’ roles in swimming, swarming, and attachment to abiotic and biotic (wheat roots) surfaces and biofilm formation. We show that while strains lacking CheY1 and CheY6 are still able to navigate air gradients, strains lacking CheY4 and CheY7 are chemotaxis null. Expansion of swarming colonies in the presence of gradients requires chemotaxis. The induction of swarming depends on CheY4 and CheY7, but the cells’ organization as dense clusters in productive swarms appear to depend on functional CheYs but not chemotaxis per se . Similarly, functional CheY homologs but not chemotaxis, contribute to attachment to both abiotic and root surfaces as well as to biofilm formation, although these effects are likely dependent on additional cell surface properties such as adhesiveness. Collectively, our data highlight distinct roles for multiple CheY homologs and for chemotaxis on swarming and attachment to surfaces.« less
  2. Petersen, Jillian Michelle (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Bacterial chemotaxis affords motile bacteria the ability to navigate the environment to locate niches for growth and survival. At the molecular level, chemotaxis depends on chemoreceptor signaling arrays that interact with cytoplasmic proteins to control the direction of movement. In Azospirillum brasilense , chemotaxis is mediated by two distinct chemotaxis pathways: Che1 and Che4. Both Che1 and Che4 are critical in the A. brasilense free-living and plant-associated lifestyles. Here, we use whole-cell proteomics and metabolomics to characterize the role of chemotaxis in A. brasilense physiology. We found that mutants lacking CheA1 or CheA4 or both are affected in nonchemotaxismore »functions, including major changes in transcription, signaling transport, and cell metabolism. We identify specific effects of CheA1 and CheA4 on nitrogen metabolism, including nitrate assimilation and nitrogen fixation, that may depend, at least, on the transcriptional control of rpoN , which encodes RpoN, a global regulator of metabolism, including nitrogen. Consistent with proteomics, the abundance of several nitrogenous compounds (purines, pyrimidines, and amino acids) changed in the metabolomes of the chemotaxis mutants relative to the parental strain. Further, we uncover novel, and yet uncharacterized, layers of transcriptional and posttranscriptional control of nitrogen metabolism regulators. Together, our data reveal roles for CheA1 and CheA4 in linking chemotaxis and nitrogen metabolism, likely through control of global regulatory networks. IMPORTANCE Bacterial chemotaxis is widespread in bacteria, increasing competitiveness in diverse environments and mediating associations with eukaryotic hosts ranging from commensal to beneficial and pathogenic. In most bacteria, chemotaxis signaling is tightly linked to energy metabolism, with this coupling occurring through the sensory input of several energy-sensing chemoreceptors. Here, we show that in A. brasilense the chemotaxis proteins have key roles in modulating nitrogen metabolism, including nitrate assimilation and nitrogen fixation, through novel and yet unknown regulations. These results are significant given that A. brasilense is a model bacterium for plant growth promotion and free-living nitrogen fixation and is used as a bio-inoculant for cereal crops. Chemotaxis signaling in A. brasilense thus links locomotor behaviors to nitrogen metabolism, allowing cells to continuously and reciprocally adjust metabolism and chemotaxis signaling as they navigate gradients.« less