The melatonin-sensitive circadian clock of the enteric bacterium Enterobacter aerogenes

Jiffin K. Paulose, Vincent M. Cassone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Circadian clocks are fundamental properties of all eukaryotic organisms and at least some prokaryotic organisms. Recent studies in our laboratory have shown that the gastrointestinal system contains a circadian clock that controls many, if not all, aspects of gastrointestinal function. We now report that at least one species of intestinal bacteria, Enterobacter aerogenes, responds to the pineal and gastrointestinal hormone melatonin by an increase in swarming activity. This swarming behavior is expressed rhythmically, with a period of approximately 24 hrs. Transformation of E. aerogenes to express luciferase with a MotA promoter reveals circadian patterns of bioluminescence that are synchronized by melatonin and whose periods are temperature compensated from 26°C to 40°C. Bioinformatics suggest similarities between the E. aerogenes and cyanobacterial clocks, suggesting the circadian clock may have evolved very early in the evolution of life. They also point to a coordination of host circadian clocks with those residing in the microbiota themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-427
Number of pages4
JournalGut Microbes
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 24 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by NIH R01 AG045833 to VMC.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Taylor & Francis.


  • Circadian
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Melatonin
  • Microbiome
  • Swarming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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