Recent advances and future prospects in bacterial and archaeal locomotion and signal transduction

J Bacteriol. 2017 May 8;199(18):e00203-17. doi: 10.1128/JB.00203-17. Online ahead of print.


Unraveling the structure and function of two-component and chemotactic signaling along with different aspects related to motility of bacteria and archaea are key research areas in modern microbiology. Escherichia coli is the traditional model organism to study chemotaxis signaling and motility. However, the recent study of a wide range of bacteria and even some archaea with different lifestyles has provided new insight into the eco-physiology of chemotaxis, which is essential for the host establishment of different pathogens or beneficial bacteria. The expanded range of model organisms has also permitted the study of chemosensory pathways unrelated to chemotaxis, multiple chemotaxis pathways within an organism, and new types of chemoreceptors. This research has greatly benefitted from technical advances in the field of cryo-microscopy that continues to reveal with increasing resolution the complexity and diversity of large protein complexes like the flagellar motor or chemoreceptor arrays. In addition, sensitive instruments now allow for an increasing number of experiments to be conducted at the single-cell level, thereby revealing information that is beginning to bridge the gap between individual cells and population behavior. Evidence has also accumulated showing that bacteria have evolved different mechanisms for surface sensing, which appears to be mediated by flagella and possibly type IV pili, and that the downstream signaling involves chemosensory pathways and two-component system based processes. Herein we summarize the recent advances and research tendencies in this field as presented at the latest Bacterial Locomotion and Signal Transduction (BLAST XIV) conference.