This article is about the behavioural response. For the princely house, see Thurn und Taxis. For the vehicle, see Taxicab. For aircraft movement, see Taxiing.

A taxis (plural taxes,[1][2][3] /ˈtæksz/), from Ancient Greek τάξις meaning "arrangement," is an innate behavioral response by an organism to a directional stimulus or gradient of stimulus intensity. A taxis differs from a tropism (turning response, often growth towards or away from a stimulus) in that the organism has motility and demonstrates guided movement towards or away from the stimulus source.[4][5] It is sometimes distinguished from a kinesis, a non-directional change in activity in response to a stimulus.


For example, flagellate protozoans of the genus Euglena move towards a light source. Here the directional stimulus is light, and the orientation movement is towards the light. This reaction or behaviour is a positive one to light and specifically termed "positive phototaxis", since phototaxis is a response to a light stimulus, and the organism is moving towards the stimulus. If the organism moves away from the stimulus, then the taxis is negative. Many types of taxis have been identified and named using prefixes to specify the stimulus that elicits the response. These include aerotaxis (stimulation by oxygen) anemotaxis (wind), barotaxis (pressure), chemotaxis (chemicals), galvanotaxis (electrical current), gravitaxis (gravity), hydrotaxis (moisture), magnetotaxis (magnetic field), phototaxis (light), rheotaxis (fluid flow), thermotaxis (temperature changes) and thigmotaxis (physical contact).

Depending on the type of sensory organs present, taxes can be classified as klinotaxes, where an organism continuously samples the environment to determine the direction of a stimulus, tropotaxes, where bilateral sense organs are used to determine the stimulus direction, and telotaxes, which are similar to tropotaxes but where a single organ suffices to establish the orientation movement.


Aerotaxis is the response of an organism to variation in oxygen concentration, and is mainly found in aerobic bacteria.[6]


Main article: chemotaxis

Chemotaxis is a migratory response that is elicited by chemicals: that is, a response to a chemical concentration gradient.[6] For example, chemotaxis in response to a sugar gradient has been observed in motile bacteria such as E. Coli.[7] Chemotaxis also occurs in the antherozoids of liverworts, ferns, and mosses in response to chemicals secreted by the archegonia.[6]

Unicellular (e.g. protozoa) or multicellular (e.g. worms) organisms are targets of chemotactic substances. A concentration gradient of chemicals developed in a fluid phase guides the vectorial movement of responder cells or organisms. Inducers of locomotion towards increasing steps of concentrations are considered as chemoattractants, while chemorepellents result moving off the chemical. Chemotaxis is described in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, but signalling mechanisms (receptors, intracellular signaling) and effectors are significantly different.

Energy taxis

Energy taxis is the orientation of bacteria towards conditions of optimal metabolic activity by sensing the internal energetic conditions of cell. Therefore in contrast to chemotaxis (taxis towards or away from a specific extracellular compound), energy taxis responds on an intracellular stimulus (e.g. proton motive force, activity of NDH- 1) and requires metabolic activity.[8]


Main article: phototaxis

Phototaxis is the movement of an organism in response to light: that is, the response to variation in light intensity and direction.[6][9]

  • Negative phototaxis, or movement away from a light source, is demonstrated in some insects, such as cockroaches.[6]
  • Positive phototaxis, or movement towards a light source, is advantageous for phototrophic organisms as they can orient themselves most efficiently to receive light for photosynthesis. Many phytoflagellates, e.g. Euglena, and the chloroplasts of higher plants positively phototactic, moving towards a light source.[6] Two types of positive phototaxis are observed in prokaryotes.
  1. Scotophototaxis is observable as the movement of a bacterium out of the area illuminated by a microscope. Entering darkness signals the cell to reverse direction and reenter the light.
  2. A second type of positive phototaxis is true phototaxis, which is a directed movement up a gradient to an increasing amount of light.


Main article: thermotaxis

Thermotaxis is a migration along a gradient of temperature. Some slime molds and small nematodes can migrate along amazingly small temperature gradients of less than 0.1C/cm.[10] They apparently use this behavior to move to an optimal level in soil.[11] [12]


Gravitaxis (known historically as geotaxis) is a response to the attraction due to gravity. The planktonic larvae of the king crab Lithodes aequispinus use a combination of positive phototaxis (movement towards the light) and negative gravitaxis (upward movement) .[13] Both positive and negative gravitaxes are found in a variety of protozoans .[14]


Main article: rheotaxis

Rheotaxis is a response to a current in a fluid. Positive rheotaxis is shown by fish turning to face against the current. In a flowing stream, this behavior leads them to hold their position in a stream rather than being swept downstream. Some fish will exhibit negative rheotaxis where they will avoid currents.


Main article: magnetotaxis

Logically, magnetotaxis is the ability to sense a magnetic field and coordinate movement in response. However, the term is commonly applied to bacteria that contain magnets and are physically rotated by the force of the Earth's magnetic field. In this case, the "behavior" has nothing to do with sensation, and the bacteria are more accurately described as "magnetic bacteria".[15]

Galvanotaxis or electrotaxis

Galvanotaxis or electrotaxis is directional movement of motile cells in response to an electric field. It has been suggested that by detecting and orientating themselves toward the electric fields, cells are able to direct their movement towards the damages or wounds to repair the defect. It also is suggested that such a movement may contribute to directional growth of cells and tissues during development and regeneration. This notion is based on 1) the existence of measurable electric fields that naturally occur during wound healing, development and regeneration; and 2) cells in cultures respond to applied electric fields by directional cell migration – electrotaxis / galvanotaxis.


Phonotaxis is the movement of an organism in response to sound.


Thigmotaxis is the response of an organism to physical contact, or to the proximity of a physical discontinuity in the environment (e.g. rats preferring to swim near the edge of a water maze).

Terminology regarding direction of taxis

Based on classification of finding path the taxis may be classified into following 5 types:


Klinotaxis occur in organisms with receptor cells but no paired receptor organs. The cells for reception are located all over the body, particularly towards the anterior side. The organisms detect the stimuli by turning their head sideways and compare the intensity. When the intensity of stimuli is balanced equally from all sides then the organisms move in a straight line. Examples: movement of larva of blowfly and butterfly.


Tropotaxis are displayed by organisms with paired receptor cells. When the stimuli coming from a source is balanced equally the organisms show movement. In this animals are capable of showing sideways movement unlike klinotaxis where the organisms show movement in a straight line. Example: movement of Greyling butterfly, fish louse


Telotaxis require paired receptors. The movement occurs along the direction where the intensity of the stimuli is stronger. For example: when bees move from their hive for food they balance the stimuli from the sun as well as flower but reside on the flower whose intensity is higher for them.


Menotaxis In this constant angular orientation of the organisms takes place. Example: Bees returning to their hive at night, movement of ant with response to the sun.


Mnemotaxis are a complex type of stimuli. In this the organisms pick up the trails left by them when traveling back to their home. Thus this is a memory response of an organisms.

See also


External links

  • Host-plant finding by insects: orientation, sensory input and search patterns
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.