Login to MyKarger

New to MyKarger? Click here to sign up.

Login with Facebook

Forgot your password?

Authors, Editors, Reviewers

For Manuscript Submission, Check or Review Login please go to Submission Websites List.

Submission Websites List

Institutional Login
(Shibboleth or Open Athens)

For the academic login, please select your country in the dropdown list. You will be redirected to verify your credentials.


Free Access

The Energy Spilling Reactions of Bacteria and Other Organisms

Russell J.B.

Author affiliations

US Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Ithaca, N.Y., USA

Corresponding Author

J.B. Russell

US Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory

Tower Road

Ithaca, NY 14853 (USA)

Tel. +1 607 255 4508, Fax +1 607 255 3904, E-Mail jbr8@cornell.edu

Related Articles for ""

J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol 2007;13:1–11

Do you have an account?

Login Information

Contact Information

I have read the Karger Terms and Conditions and agree.


For many years it was assumed that living organisms always utilized ATP in a highly efficient manner, but simple growth studies with bacteria indicated that the efficiency of biomass production was often at least 3-fold lower than the amount that would be predicted from standard biosynthetic pathways. The utilization of energy for maintenance could only explain a small portion of this discrepancy particularly when the growth rate was high. These ideas and thermodynamic arguments indicated that cells might have another avenue of energy utilization. This phenomenon has also been called ‘uncoupling’, ‘spillage’ and ‘overflow metabolism’, but ‘energy spilling’ is probably the most descriptive term. It appears that many bacteria spill energy, and the few that do not can be killed (large and often rapid decrease in viability), if the growth medium is nitrogen-limited and the energy source is in ‘excess’. The lactic acid bacterium, Streptococcus bovis, is an ideal bacterium for the study of energy spilling. Because it only uses substrate level phosphorylation to generate ATP, ATP generation can be calculated with a high degree of certainty. It does not store glucose as glycogen, and its cell membrane can be easily accessed. Comparative analysis of heat production, membrane voltage, ATP production and Ohm’s law indicated that the energy spilling reaction of S. bovis is mediated by a futile cycle of protons through the cell membrane. Less is known about Escherichia coli, but in this bacterium energy spilling could be mediated by a futile cycle of potassium or ammonium ions. Energy spilling is not restricted to prokaryotes and appears to occur in yeasts and in higher organisms. In man, energy spilling may be related to cancer, ageing, ischemia and cardiac failure.

© 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel

Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Review

Published online: August 16, 2007
Issue release date: August 2007

Number of Print Pages: 11
Number of Figures: 2
Number of Tables: 1

ISSN: 1464-1801 (Print)
eISSN: 1660-2412 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/MMB

Copyright / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.