Bacterial histidine kinase/response regulator systems operate at the interface between environmental cues and physiological states. Escherichia coli contains two LytS/LytTR-type histidine kinase/response regulator systems, BtsS/BtsR (formerly YehU/YehT) and YpdA/ YpdB, which have been identified as pyruvate-responsive two-component systems. Since they exhibit remarkable similarity, we analyzed their phylogenetic distribution within the γ-proteobacteria, and experimentally characterized them in a set of representative species. We found that BtsS/BtsR is the predominant LytS/LytTR-type two-component system among γ-proteobacteria, whereas YpdA/YpdB primarily appears in a supplementary role. Based on our observations in E. coli, we used the highly conserved DNA-binding motifs to test the in vivo functionality of both systems in various genera, including Salmonella, Enterobacter, Citrobacter, Xenorhabdus, Yersinia, Aeromonas and Vibrio. The results suggest that, in all cases tested, BtsS/BtsR and YpdA/YpdB respond to different levels of pyruvate in the environment.