Bacterial ion fluxes are involved in the generation of energy, transport, and motility. As such, bacterial electrophysiology is fundamentally important for the bacterial life cycle, but it is often neglected and consequently, by and large, not understood. Arguably, the two main reasons for this are the complexity of measuring relevant variables in small cells with a cell envelope that contains the cell wall and the fact that, in a unicellular organism, relevant variables become intertwined in a nontrivial manner. To help give bacterial electrophysiology studies a firm footing, in this review, we go back to basics. We look first at the biophysics of bacterial membrane potential, and then at the approaches and models developed mostly for the study of neurons and eukaryotic mitochondria. We discuss their applicability to bacterial cells. Finally, we connect bacterial membrane potential with other relevant (electro)physiological variables and summarize methods that can be used to both measure and influence bacterial electrophysiology.

Expected final online publication date for the , Volume 53 is May 2024. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.


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