Encyclopedia of Biophysics

Living Edition
| Editors: Gordon Roberts, Anthony Watts, European Biophysical Societies

Bacterial Respiratory Chains

  • Mark ShepherdEmail author
  • Robert K. Poole
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-35943-9_30-1



Bacterial respiratory chains provide a biochemical scaffold for the shuttling of electrons from organic and inorganic energy sources to a variety of acceptor molecules. This process is coupled to the generation of an electrochemical gradient, which may be used to generate energy in the form of ATP via the F1Fo ATPase.


The aim of this entry is to provide an overview of the function, structure, biosynthesis, and evolution of respiratory chains in bacteria. Classical ideas of respiratory function describe the generation of an electrochemical gradient across the inner membrane via the translocation of protons derived from the oxidation of reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and succinate. This proton-motive force may then be used by the F1FoATPase to synthesize ATP. However, the mechanism via which this gradient is achieved depends upon a number of environmental and genetic factors. One common feature of...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Calhoun MW, Oden KL, Gennis RB, de Mattos MJT, Neijssel OM (1993) Energetic efficiency of Escherichia coli – effects of mutations in components of the aerobic respiratory chain. J Bacteriol 175:3020–3025CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Castresana J, Moreira D (1999) Respiratory chains in the last common ancestor of living organisms. J Mol Evol 49:453–460CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Frausto da Silva JJR, Williams RJP (2001) The biological chemistry of the elements. The inorganic chemistry of life, 2nd edn. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Gennis RB (1989) Biomembranes: molecular structure and function. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gennis RB, Stewart V (1996) Respiration. In: Niedhart JC, Curtiss R (eds) Escherichia coli and Salmonella: cellular and molecular biology. ASM Press, Washington, DC, pp 217–261Google Scholar
  6. Mason MG, Shepherd M, Nicholls P, Dobbin PS, Dodsworth KS, Poole RK, Cooper CE (2009) Cytochrome bd confers nitric oxide resistance to Escherichia coli. Nat Chem Biol 5:94–96CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Nicholls DG, Ferguson SJ (2002) Bioenergetics 3. Academic Press, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  8. Richardson DJ (2000) Bacterial respiration: a flexible process for a changing environment. Microbiology 146:551–571CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Poole RK, Cook GM (2000) Redundancy of aerobic respiratory chains in bacteria? Routes, reasons and regulation. Adv Microb Physiol 43:165–224CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Safarian S, Rajendran C, Mueller H, Preu J, Langer JD, Ovchinnikov S, Hirose T, Kusumoto T, Sakamoto J, Michel H (2016) Structure of a bd oxidase indicates similar mechanisms for membrane-integrated oxygen reductases. Science 352:583–586CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Soballe B, Poole RK (1999) Microbial ubiquinones: multiple roles in respiration, gene regulation and oxidative stress management. Microbiol UK 145:1817–1830CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Trumpower BL (1990) Cytochrome bc1 complexes of microorganisms. Microbiol Rev 54:101–129PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© European Biophysical Societies' Association (EBSA) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of BiosciencesUniversity of KentCanterburyUK
  2. 2.Department of Molecular Biology and BiotechnologyUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK