Chemotaxis of bacteria in glass capillary arrays. Escherichia coli, motility, microchannel plate, and light scattering


Berg, H. C., & Turner, L. (1990). Chemotaxis of bacteria in glass capillary arrays. Biophysical Journal, 58(4), 919–930.



Researchers measured the chemotaxis drift velocities and diffusion coefficients of E. coli and mutants with modified motility by observing the flux of bacteria through a microchannel plate separating two chambers.


The authors designed a new method for quantifying bacterial chemotaxis by measuring the flux of bacteria swimming through a microchannel plate that separates two chambers.

  • Researchers computed diffusion coefficients from bacterial flux observed in the absence of chemical gradients and chemotaxis drift velocities from fluxes observed in the presence of attractants and repellants.
  • The study used E. coli and mutants defective in chemotaxis, finding that the chemotaxis drift velocity was much lower in the mutant E. coli strain cheRcheB.
  • The authors argue that the new method, which continuously monitors cell counts, offers advantages over existing methods, such as the swarm-plate assay, the capillary assay, and the layered-gradient assay.


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