The Phototrophic Consortium “Chlorochromatium aggregatum” – A Model for Bacterial Heterologous Multicellularity

  • Jörg Overmann
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 675)


Phototrophic consortia currently represent the most highly developed interspecific association between prokaryotes and consist of green sulfur bacterial epibionts which surround a central, motile, chemotrophic bacterium. Several independent experimental findings indicate that a rapid signal transfer occurs between the epibionts and the central bacterium. First, the cell division of the partner bacteria occurs in a highly coordinated fashion. Second, consortia accumulate scotophobotactically in the light, whereby the central bacterium confers motility to the consortium and the epibionts act as light sensors. Third, the organic carbon uptake of the central bacterium seems to be controlled by the epibiont. A decade ago, a laboratory culture of the phototrophic consortium “Chlorochromatium aggregatum” could be established and maintained. Using “C. aggregatum,” recent genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic studies have started to unravel the molecular basis of prokaryotic heterologous multicellularity in this model system.


Suppression Subtractive Hybridization Green Sulfur Bacterium Central Metabolic Pathway Assimilable Organic Carbon Bacterial Virulence Factor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Several motivated students have participated in our research on phototrophic consortia: Jürgen Fröstl, Jens Glaeser, Kajetan Vogl, Martina Schlickenrieder, Martina Müller, Birgit Kanzler, Kristina Pfannes, Katharina Hütz, Anne Bayer, Dörte Dibbern, and Johannes Müller. Their contributions were decisive for the success of the project. Support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (grants Ov20/3-1, Ov20/3-2, Ov20/3-3, Ov20/10-1, Ov20/10-2) is gratefully acknowledged.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bereich Mikrobiologie, Department Biologie ILudwig-Maximilians-Universität MünchenPlanegg-MartinsriedGermany

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