Publications by Year: 2021

Kurtz DA, Zhang J, Sookezian A, Kallick J, Hill MG, Hunter BM. A Cobalt Phosphine Complex in Five Oxidation States [Internet]. American Chemistry Society, Inorganic Chemistry 2021; Publisher's VersionAbstract
Here we report electrochemical, spectroscopic, and crystallographic characterization of a redox series of cobalt complexes in five sequential oxidation states. A simple bidentate phosphine ligand, cis-1,2-bis(diphenylphosphino)ethylene (dppv), allows for isolation of the 3+, 2+, 1+, 0, and 1– oxidation states of cobalt─the only known example of transition-metal complexes with redox-innocent ligands in five oxidation states. Electrochemistry of [Co(dppv)2]2+ reveals three reversible reductions and one reversible oxidation. Complexes in each oxidation state are characterized using single-crystal X-ray diffraction. The coordination number and geometry of the complex changes as a function of the oxidation state: including acetonitrile ligands, the Co3+ complex is pseudo-octahedral, the Co2+ complex is square-pyramidal, the Co+ complex is pseudo-square-planar, and the Co0 and Co complexes approach pseudo-tetrahedral, illustrating structures predicted by crystal-field theory of inorganic transition-metal complexes.
Zhang J, Winkler JR, Gray HB, Hunter BM. Mechanism of Nickel-Iron Water Oxidation Electrocatalysts [Internet]. ACS energy& fuels 2021; Publisher's VersionAbstract
Hotly debated these days is whether nickel or iron is the active site in nickel–iron water oxidation electrocatalysts. We have previously argued that iron is a likely candidate for highly active materials because it can reach high-oxidation (high-ox) states at potentials relevant to water splitting. Here, we further assert that nickel is likely not an active site for water oxidation electrocatalysis in these materials. Our 3-fold argument is supported by electrochemical measurements on rigorously planar electrodes produced by pulsed laser ablation in liquids: (1) nickel cannot achieve high-ox states in aqueous environments at relevant potentials; (2) large steady-state concentrations of metal sites preclude them from being active, thereby indicating that even more oxidizing moieties are critically important; and (3) unlike nickel sites, high-ox iron sites documented experimentally are neither rare nor unreasonably reactive.
Grognot M, Mittal A, Mah'Moud M, Taute KM. Vibrio cholerae motility in aquatic and mucus-mimicking environments [Internet]. AMS Journals, Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2021; Publisher's VersionAbstract
Cholera disease is caused by Vibrio cholerae infecting the lining of the small intestine and results in severe diarrhea. V. cholerae’s swimming motility is known to play a crucial role in pathogenicity and may aid the bacteria in crossing the intestinal mucus barrier to reach sites of infection, but the exact mechanisms are unknown. The cell can be either pushed or pulled by its single polar flagellum, but there is no consensus on the resulting repertoire of motility behaviors.
We use high-throughput 3D bacterial tracking to observe V. cholerae swimming in buffer, in viscous solutions of the synthetic polymer PVP, and in mucin solutions that may mimic the host environment. We perform a statistical characterization of its motility behavior on the basis of large 3D trajectory datasets. We find that V. cholerae performs asymmetric run-reverse-flick motility, consisting of a sequence of a forward run, reversal, and a shorter backward run, followed by a turn by approximately 90°, called a flick, preceding the next forward run. Unlike many run-reverse-flick swimmers, V. cholerae’s backward runs are much shorter than its forward runs, resulting in an increased effective diffusivity. We also find that the swimming speed is not constant, but subject to frequent decreases. The turning frequency in mucin matches that observed in buffer. Run-reverse-flick motility and speed fluctuations are present in all environments studied, suggesting that these behaviors may also occur in natural aquatic habitats as well as the host environment.
Grognot M, Taute KM. A multiscale 3D chemotaxis assay reveals bacterial navigation mechanisms [Internet]. Communications Biology 2021;4 Publisher's VersionAbstract
How motile bacteria navigate environmental chemical gradients has implications ranging from health to climate science, but the underlying behavioral mechanisms are unknown for most species. The well-studied navigation strategy of Escherichia coli forms a powerful paradigm that is widely assumed to translate to other bacterial species. This assumption is rarely tested because of a lack of techniques capable of bridging scales from individual navigation behavior to the resulting population-level chemotactic performance. Here, we present such a multiscale 3D chemotaxis assay by combining high-throughput 3D bacterial tracking with microfluidically created chemical gradients. Large datasets of 3D trajectories yield the statistical power required to assess chemotactic performance at the population level, while simultaneously resolving the underlying 3D navigation behavior for every individual. We demonstrate that surface effects confound typical 2D chemotaxis assays, and reveal that, contrary to previous reports, Caulobacter crescentus breaks with the E. coli paradigm.
Dittmer J, Brucker RM. When your host shuts down: larval diapause impacts host-microbiome interaction in Nasonia vitripennis [Internet]. Microbiome 2021;9 Publisher's VersionAbstract


The life cycles of many insect species include an obligatory or facultative diapause stage with arrested development and low metabolic activity as an overwintering strategy. Diapause is characterised by profound physiological changes in endocrine activity, cell proliferation and nutrient metabolism. However, little is known regarding host-microbiome interactions during diapause, despite the importance of bacterial symbionts for host nutrition and development. In this work, we investigated (i) the role of the microbiome for host nutrient allocation during diapause and (ii) the impact of larval diapause on microbiome dynamics in the parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis, a model organism for host-microbiome interactions.


Our results demonstrate that the microbiome is essential for host nutrient allocation during diapause in N. vitripennis, as axenic diapausing larvae had consistently lower glucose and glycerol levels than conventional diapausing larvae, especially when exposed to cold temperature. In turn, microbiome composition was altered in diapausing larvae, potentially due to changes in the surrounding temperature, host nutrient levels and a downregulation of host immune genes. Importantly, prolonged larval diapause had a transstadial effect on the adult microbiome, with unknown consequences for host fitness. Notably, the most dominant microbiome member, Providencia sp., was drastically reduced in adults after more than 4 months of larval diapause, while potential bacterial pathogens increased in abundance.


This work investigates host-microbiome interactions during a crucial developmental stage, which challenges both the insect host and its microbial associates. The impact of diapause on the microbiome is likely due to several factors, including altered host regulatory mechanisms and changes in the host environment.

Grognot M, Taute KM. More than propellers: how flagella shape bacterial motility behaviors [Internet]. Current Opinion in Microbiology 2021;61(June 2021):73-81. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Bacteria use a wide variety of flagellar architectures to navigate their environment. While the iconic run-tumble motility strategy of the peritrichously flagellated Escherichia coli has been well studied, recent work has revealed a variety of new motility behaviors that can be achieved with different flagellar architectures, such as single, bundled, or opposing polar flagella. The recent discovery of various flagellar gymnastics such as flicking and flagellar wrapping is increasingly shifting the view from flagella as passive propellers to versatile appendages that can be used in a wide range of conformations. Here, we review recent observations of how flagella shape motility behaviors and summarize the nascent structure-function map linking flagellation and behavior.