In a capillary assay, uncouplers of oxidative phosphorylation and inhibitors of electron transport are repellents for Bacillus subtilis. They also cause transient tumbling in naturally smooth swimming strains. Tumbling strains can be made to swim smoothly by addition of attractant and then immediately returned to tumbling by subsequent addition of repellent. Arsenate does not cause transient tumbling, suggesting that decrease in concentration of adenosine triphosphate does not cause tumbling and that adenosine triphosphate concentration does not govern tumbling frequency. Instead, the evidence suggests that diminution of the energized state of the membrane, or membrane potential, causes tumbling although the level of the energized state itself does not govern tumbling frequency.
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