Genes required for both gliding motility and development in Myxococcus xanthus

Mol Microbiol. 1994 Nov;14(4):785-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.1994.tb01315.x.


Myxococcus xanthus cells can glide both as individual cells, dependent on Adventurous motility (A motility), and as groups of cells, dependent upon Social motility (S motility). Tn5-lac mutagenesis was used to generate 16 new A- and nine new S- mutations. In contrast with previous results, we find that subsets of A- mutants are defective in fruiting body morphogenesis and/or myxospore differentiation. All S- mutants are defective in fruiting body morphogenesis, consistent with previous results. Whereas some S- mutants produce a wild-type complement of spores, others are defective in the differentiation of myxospores. Therefore, a subset of the A genes and all of the S genes are critical for fruiting body morphogenesis. Subsets of both A and S genes are essential for sporulation. Three S::Tn5-lac insertions result in surprising phenotypes. Colonies of two S- mutants glide on 'swim' (0.35% agar) plates to form fractal patterns. These S- mutants are the first examples of a bacterium in which mutations result in fractal patterns of colonial spreading. An otherwise wild-type strain with one S- insertion resembles the frz- sglA1- mutants upon development, suggesting that this S- gene defines a new chemotaxis component in M. xanthus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Chemotaxis / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Genotype
  • Hot Temperature
  • Lac Operon
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Myxococcus xanthus / genetics*
  • Myxococcus xanthus / growth & development
  • Myxococcus xanthus / physiology
  • Phenotype
  • Spores, Bacterial / genetics
  • Spores, Bacterial / growth & development
  • Spores, Bacterial / physiology
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics


  • beta-Galactosidase