Role of chemotaxis in the association of motile bacteria with intestinal mucosa: in vivo studies.


In vivo loops were prepared in the small intestine of rabbits and injected with mixtures of Vibrio cholerae and polystyrene spheres (1.1-micrometers diameter). The loops were removed and frozen after 15 min and then sectioned in a cryostat. The locations of particles and vibrios were determined microscopically. The vibrio/particle ratio was unity in the lumen of the loops, but increased 10-fold in the deep intervillous spaces, indicating active invasion of the mucus gel by the chemotactic parent strain. Motile nonchemotactic mutants and nonmotile mutants of this strain invaded the mucus at the same rate as inert particles. Similar results were obtained with intestinal loops prepared in germfree mice. When germfree mice were disassociated with mixtures of chemotactic (parent or revertant) and nonchemotactic mutant vibrios in equal proportions, the chemotactic strain rapidly outgrew its nonchemotactic counterpart in the intestine. Nonchemotactic mutants introduced as monoassociates into germfree mice were rapidly overgrown by nonmotile mutants which apparently arose spontaneously in the gut. Motility was therefore beneficial to survival only when it was directed by chemotactic stimuli, whereas it was a liability in the absence of such stimuli. Growth of chemotactic vibrios in small intestinal loops of rabbits paralleled that of nonchemotactic mutants for the first 4 to 6 h. Thereafter, the growth rate of the chemotactic vibrios was significantly faster. This was correlated with a significantly higher degree of association with the mucosa on the part of the chemotactic vibrios.

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@article{Freter1981RoleOC, title={Role of chemotaxis in the association of motile bacteria with intestinal mucosa: in vivo studies.}, author={Rolf Freter and Peter C O'brien and M S Macsai}, journal={Infection and immunity}, year={1981}, volume={34 1}, pages={234-40} }