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Summary

Myxococcus xanthus glides over solid surfaces without the use of flagella, dependent upon two large sets of adventurous (A) and social (S) genes, using two different mechanisms of gliding motility. Myxococcus xanthus AS double mutants form non-motile colonies lacking migratory cells at their edges. We have isolated 115 independent mutants of M. xanthus with insertions of transposon magellan-4 in potential A genes by screening for insertions that reduce the motility of a mutant S parental strain. These insertions are found not only in the three loci known to be required for A motility, mglBA, cglB, and aglU, but also in 30 new genes. Six of these new genes encode different homologues of the TolR, TolB, and TolQ transport proteins, suggesting that adventurous motility is dependent on biopolymer transport. Other insertions which affect both A and S motility suggest that both systems share common energy and cell wall determinants. Because the spectrum of magellan-4 insertions in M. xanthus is extraordinarily broad, transposon mutagenesis with this eukaryotic genetic element permits the rapid genetic analysis of large sets of genes that contribute to a complex microbial behaviors such as A motility.