Membrane lipid homeostasis in bacteria

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2008 Mar;6(3):222-33. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1839.


The ability of bacteria to control the biophysical properties of their membrane phospholipids allows them to thrive in a wide range of physical environments. Bacteria precisely adjust their membrane lipid composition by modifying the types of fatty acids that are produced by the biosynthetic pathway and altering the structures of pre-existing phospholipids. The recycling of phospholipids that are used as intermediates in the biosynthesis of other major membrane components is also crucial to bilayer stability in dividing cells. Here, the principal genetic and biochemical processes that are responsible for membrane lipid homeostasis in bacteria are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acyl Carrier Protein / physiology
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Homeostasis*
  • Lipid Bilayers / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Phospholipids / chemistry
  • Phospholipids / metabolism


  • Acyl Carrier Protein
  • Fatty Acids
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Phospholipids
  • phospholipid desaturase
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases