Piezophysiology of the Model Bacterium Escherichia coli
Pressure is a thermodynamical parameter that varies greatly throughout the biosphere. From an average of 0.1 MPa at the surface of the earth, pressure increases to 110 MPa at the deepest point of the ocean, the Challenger Deep, located about 11 km below sea level in the Mariana Trench (Abe et al. 1999; Lauro and Bartlett 2008). These deep sea niches are populated by piezophilic (i.e., pressure loving) bacteria which require these high pressures for optimal growth. Conversely, growth of mesophilic with respect to pressure-bacteria such as Escherichia coli is accompanied by filamentation and slows down under high pressure up to about 50 MPa, after which it completely halts (Zobell and Cobet 1962, 1964). These simple observations indicate that the cellular machinery in these different microorganisms has acquired specific adaptations to function optimally at the pressure prevailing at the surface of the earth or in the depths of the oceans in the course of evolution (Yayanos 1995...
KeywordsAlternative Sigma Factor Bacterial Inactivation Essential Cellular Process Cold Shock Response Reduce Water Activity
D.V. holds a Ph.D. grant from the Institute for the Promotion of Innovation through Science and Technology in Flanders (IWT-Vlaanderen). A.A. acknowledges financial support from Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO-Vlaanderen; Grant 1.5258.08N).
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