Effects of lipophilic cations on motility and other physiological properties of Bacillus subtilis

A. Zaritsky, R. M. MacNab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Lipophilic cations (tetraphenylarsonium, tetraphenylphosphonium, and triphenylmethylphosphonium) caused a number of major changes in the physiology of B. subtilis. Macromolecular synthesis was inhibited, adenosine 5'-triphosphate concentration increased, swimming speed was reduced, tumbling was suppressed, and the capacity to take up the cations was greatly enhanced; respiration was not significantly altered. The effects occurred at lipophilic cation concentrations in the range commonly employed for measurement of membrane potential. Neither the enhancement of cation uptake nor the motility inhibition was a consequence of alteration of membrane potential, since both effects were still senn in the presence of valinomycin, with the extent of 86Rb+ uptake indicating a constant potential. Because suppression of tumbling accompanied speed reduction, as has also been found when protonmotive force is reduced, it is likely that lipophilic cations are perturbing the process of conversion of proton energy into work, rather than simply causing structural damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1054-1062
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Dec 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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