Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bacteria optimise their swimming behaviour

10.09.2018

Controlling the optimal length of the bacterial locomotory organelle enables efficient swimming

Bacteria are unicellular organisms that measure just a few micrometres in size. By rotating a propeller-like appendage, the flagellum, they are able to move in liquid environments. This ability to propel themselves is of critical importance for many pathogenic bacteria, such as Salmonella. The motility organelle of the bacteria is a complex, macromolecular structure that comprises thousands of building blocks and measures several micrometres in length.


Elektronenmikroskopische Aufnahme eines Salmonellenbakteriums mit langen Fortsätzen, den Flagellen. Foto: Prof. Dr. Manfred Rhode, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, Braunschweig

Interestingly, bacteria can precisely measure the substructures of their flagella on a nanometre scale. In particular, the length of an extracellular joint linking structure – the flagellar hook – is fixed to around 55 nanometres.

To enable this precise length measurement, bacteria use a ‘molecular ruler protein’, which determines the length of the hook structure during the construction of flagella. Why the precisely defined length of the hook structure is important for flagella function, however, was previously unknown.

Researchers at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU), together with national and international colleagues from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig, the Braunschweig Integrated Centre of Systems Biology, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Fribourg and Michigan State University, have now determined that the optimal length of the hook structure is critically important for the efficient motility of Salmonella.

As part of this research, the scientists analysed the swimming behaviour of genetically modified bacteria with various hook lengths in different environments and were able to demonstrate that Salmonella can move most efficiently in liquid environments when the hook structure measures around 55 nanometres in length.

These findings are a fascinating example that show why the locomotory organelle of bacteria has developed through the constant process of evolution into the complex, macromolecular structure seen today. The conclusions drawn by the researchers based on the structure of the locomotory organelle with regard to the swimming behaviour of bacteria could also play an important role for the future development of swimming robots at the micrometre scale.

The complete study has been published with the title ‘Hook length of the bacterial flagellum is optimized for maximal stability of the flagellar bundle’ in the scientific journal PLoS Biology.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Dr. Marc Erhardt
Institute for Biology
Tel.: 030 2093-49780
marc.erhardt@hu-berlin.de

Originalpublikation:

I. Spöring, V.A. Martinez, C. Hotz, J. Schwarz-Linek, K. L. Grady, J. M. Nava-Sedeño, T. Vissers, H. M. Singer, M. Rohde, C. Bourquin, H. Hatzikirou, W. C. K. Poon, Y. S. Dufour, M. Erhardt. (2018) Hook length of the bacterial flagellum is optimized for maximal stability of the flagellar bundle. PLoS Biology 16(9): doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2006989

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.baktphys.hu-berlin.de

Hans-Christoph Keller | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
https://www.hu-berlin.de

Further reports about: Salmonella bacteria flagella flagellum liquid environments nanometres

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New therapeutic approach to combat African sleeping sickness
20.02.2019 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht 'Butterfly-shaped' palladium subnano cluster built in 3-D
20.02.2019 | Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light from a roll – hybrid OLED creates innovative and functional luminous surfaces

Up to now, OLEDs have been used exclusively as a novel lighting technology for use in luminaires and lamps. However, flexible organic technology can offer much more: as an active lighting surface, it can be combined with a wide variety of materials, not just to modify but to revolutionize the functionality and design of countless existing products. To exemplify this, the Fraunhofer FEP together with the company EMDE development of light GmbH will be presenting hybrid flexible OLEDs integrated into textile designs within the EU-funded project PI-SCALE for the first time at LOPEC (March 19-21, 2019 in Munich, Germany) as examples of some of the many possible applications.

The Fraunhofer FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, has long been involved in the development of...

Im Focus: Regensburg physicists watch electron transfer in a single molecule

For the first time, an international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has recorded the orbitals of single molecules in different charge states in a novel type of microscopy. The research findings are published under the title “Mapping orbital changes upon electron transfer with tunneling microscopy on insulators” in the prestigious journal “Nature”.

The building blocks of matter surrounding us are atoms and molecules. The properties of that matter, however, are often not set by these building blocks...

Im Focus: University of Konstanz gains new insights into the recent development of the human immune system

Scientists at the University of Konstanz identify fierce competition between the human immune system and bacterial pathogens

Cell biologists from the University of Konstanz shed light on a recent evolutionary process in the human immune system and publish their findings in the...

Im Focus: Transformation through Light

Laser physicists have taken snapshots of carbon molecules C₆₀ showing how they transform in intense infrared light

When carbon molecules C₆₀ are exposed to an intense infrared light, they change their ball-like structure to a more elongated version. This has now been...

Im Focus: Famous “sandpile model” shown to move like a traveling sand dune

Researchers at IST Austria find new property of important physical model. Results published in PNAS

The so-called Abelian sandpile model has been studied by scientists for more than 30 years to better understand a physical phenomenon called self-organized...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Global Legal Hackathon at HAW Hamburg

11.02.2019 | Event News

The world of quantum chemistry meets in Heidelberg

30.01.2019 | Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New therapeutic approach to combat African sleeping sickness

20.02.2019 | Life Sciences

Powering a pacemaker with a patient's heartbeat

20.02.2019 | Medical Engineering

The holy grail of nanowire production

20.02.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>