Mapping Sensory Systems in Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria

The in vitro array based method optimized here is generally applicable for the study of such systems in all organisms.

The Science

Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRBs) play important roles in the decomposition of organic matter, cycling of nutrients, and transformation of heavy metals in subsurface environments. Sensing and responding to minute shifts in nutrient levels, potentially damaging or toxic conditions, and the presence of other microbes is critical to their lifestyle. Systems involving two components, paired sets of sensor and regulator proteins that control gene expression, are an important sense/response mechanism in bacteria, but it remains extremely difficult to establish relationships between the systems and larger networks of regulated genes. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have now completed the first-ever map of two-component regulatory systems for the model microbe SRB Desulfovibrio vulgaris using a cell-free approach based on direct binding of purified regulator proteins to genome fragments. Genes involved in nutrient acquisition, growth, stress response, and community assembly were mapped onto specific response regulators, providing a greatly enhanced understanding of how SRBs react to changing environmental conditions and mediate key processes in the subsurface.

BER Program Manager

Dawn Adin

U.S. Department of Energy, Biological and Environmental Research (SC-33)
Biological Systems Science Division
[email protected]


Rajeev, L., E. G. Luning, P. S. Dehal, M. N. Price, A. P. Arkin, and A. Mukhopadhyay. 2011. “Systematic Mapping of Two Component Response Regulators to Gene Targets in a Model Sulfate Reducing Bacterium,” Genome Biology 12:R99. DOI:10.1186/gb-2011-12-10-r99.