Solvent tolerance in Gram-negative bacteria

Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2012 Jun;23(3):415-21. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2011.11.015. Epub 2011 Dec 10.


Bacteria have been found in all niches explored on Earth, their ubiquity derives from their enormous metabolic diversity and their capacity to adapt to changes in the environment. Some bacterial strains are able to thrive in the presence of high concentrations of toxic organic chemicals, such as aromatic compounds, aliphatic alcohols and solvents. The extrusion of these toxic compounds from the cell to the external medium represents the most relevant aspect in the solvent tolerance of bacteria, however, solvent tolerance is a multifactorial process that involves a wide range of genetic and physiological changes to overcome solvent damage. These additional elements include reduced membrane permeabilization, implementation of a stress response programme, and in some cases degradation of the toxic compound. We discuss the recent advances in our understanding of the mechanisms involved in solvent tolerance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism
  • Environmental Pollutants / pharmacology
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / cytology
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / physiology*
  • Ion Pumps / metabolism
  • Organic Chemicals / metabolism
  • Organic Chemicals / pharmacology*
  • Solvents / metabolism
  • Solvents / pharmacology*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Ion Pumps
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Solvents