Temperature sensing is essential for the survival of living cells. The membrane-bound thermosensor DesK from Bacillus subtilis is a key representative of histidine kinases receptors able to remodel membrane lipid composition when the temperature drops below ~30°C. Although the receptor is well studied, a central issue remains: how does the compositional and functional diversity of the surrounding membrane modulate receptor function? Reconstituting full-length DesK into proteoliposomes of well-defined and controlled lipid composition represents a minimal synthetic approach to systematically address this question. Thus DesK has been reconstituted in a variety of phospholipid bilayers and its temperature-regulated autokinase activity determined as function of fatty acyl chain length, lipid head-group structure and phase preference. We show that the head group structure of lipids (both in vitro and in vivo ) has little effect on DesK thermosensing, whereas properties determined by the acyl chain of lipids, such as membrane thickness and phase separation into coexisting lipid domains, exert a profound regulatory effect on kinase domain activation at low temperatures. These experiments suggest that the non-polar domain of glycerolipids is essential to regulate the allosteric structural transitions of DesK, by activating the autophosphorylation of the intracellular kinase domain in response to a decrease in temperature.