It is well established that bacteria are able to respond to temporal gradients (e.g., by chemotaxis). However, it is widely held that prokaryotes are too small to sense spatial gradients. This contradicts the common observation that the vast majority of bacteria live on the surface of a solid substrate (e.g., as a biofilm). Herein we report direct experimental evidence that the nonmotile bacterium Staphylococcus aureus possesses a tactile response, or primitive sense of touch, that allows it to respond to spatial gradients. Attached cells recognize their substrate interface and localize adhesins toward that region. Braille-like avidity maps reflect a cell's biochemical sensory response and reveal ultrastructural regions defined by the actual binding activity of specific proteins.
Lower, Steven K; Youngsunthon, Ruchirej; Casillas-Ituarte, Nadia N; Taylor, Eric S; DiBartola, Alex C; Lower, Brian H; Beveridge, Terrance J; Buck, Andrew W; Fowler, Vance G (2010). A Tactile Response in Staphylococcus aureus. Biophysical Journal 99(9) 2803-2811. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.08.063. Retrieved from https://oaks.kent.edu/article/tactile-response-staphylococcus-aureus