Asynchrony in the growth and motility responses to environmental changes by individual bacterial cells

Senkei Umehara, Akihiro Hattori, Ippei Inoue, Kenji Yasuda*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Knowing how individual cells respond to environmental changes helps one understand phenotypic diversity in a bacterial cell population, so we simultaneously monitored the growth and motility of isolated motile Escherichia coli cells over several generations by using a method called on-chip single-cell cultivation. Starved cells quickly stopped growing but remained motile for several hours before gradually becoming immotile. When nutrients were restored the cells soon resumed their growth and proliferation but remained immotile for up to six generations. A flagella visualization assay suggested that deflagellation underlies the observed loss of motility. This set of results demonstrates that single-cell transgenerational study under well-characterized environmental conditions can provide information that will help us understand distinct functions within individual cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-469
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007 May 4
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial flagella
  • Cell growth
  • Cell motility
  • Deflagellation
  • Escherichia coli
  • Intercellular communication
  • Microfabrication
  • Nutrient starvation
  • Phenotypic diversity
  • Single cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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