Document Type



Alcohol, butanol, catabolism, chemoreceptor, chemotaxis, ethanol, methyl-accepting chemotaxis protein, physiology, propanol, pseudomonas


DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01625-19


Although alcohols are toxic to many microorganisms, they are good carbon and energy sources for some bacteria, including many pseudomonads. However, most studies that have examined chemosensory responses to alcohols have reported that alcohols are sensed as repellents, which is consistent with their toxic properties. In this study, we examined the chemotaxis of strain F1 to -alcohols with chain lengths of 1 to 12 carbons. F1 was attracted to all -alcohols that served as growth substrates (C to C ) for the strain, and the responses were induced when cells were grown in the presence of alcohols. By assaying mutant strains lacking single or multiple methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins, the receptor mediating the response to C to C alcohols was identified as McfP, the ortholog of the strain KT2440 receptor for C and C carboxylic acids. Besides being a requirement for the response to -alcohols, McfP was required for the response of F1 to pyruvate, l-lactate, acetate, and propionate, which are detected by the KT2440 receptor, and the medium- and long-chain carboxylic acids hexanoic acid and dodecanoic acid. β-Galactosidase assays of F1 carrying an transcriptional fusion showed that the gene is not induced in response to alcohols. Together, our results are consistent with the idea that the carboxylic acids generated from the oxidation of alcohols are the actual attractants sensed by McfP in F1, rather than the alcohols themselves. Alcohols, released as fermentation products and produced as intermediates in the catabolism of many organic compounds, including hydrocarbons and fatty acids, are common components of the microbial food web in soil and sediments. Although they serve as good carbon and energy sources for many soil bacteria, alcohols have primarily been reported to be repellents rather than attractants for motile bacteria. Little is known about how alcohols are sensed by microbes in the environment. We report here that catabolizable -alcohols with linear chains of up to 12 carbons serve as attractants for the soil bacterium , and rather than being detected directly, alcohols appear to be catabolized to acetate, which is then sensed by a specific cell-surface chemoreceptor protein.





Published in

American Society for Microbiology: Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Citation/Other Information

Zhang, X., Hughes, J.G., Subuyuj, G.A., Ditty, J.L., and Parales, R.E. (2019). Chemotaxis of Pseudomonas putida F1 to alcohols is mediated by the carboxylic acid receptor McfP. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 85(22). pii: e01625-19. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01625-19. PMID: 31471307.

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