Thursday, 8 August 2013

Flagellum failure lets bacteria turn

When headed the wrong way, some bacteria turn by letting their propellers flop, according to Cristy Gelling at Science News.

The newly discovered turning mechanism explains how a marine bacterium can control its direction using only a single flagellum, a stiff, rotating appendage that propels the cell forward. Turning depends on a mechanical characteristic that engineers might consider a failure if the flagellum were human-made: the tendency of flexible materials to buckle under pressure.

To read more, refer to the following research paper:

K. Son, J. Guasto, and R. Stocker. Bacteria can exploit a flagellar buckling instability to change direction. Nature Physics. Published online July 7, 2013. doi:10.1038/NPHYS2676

Posted by Tim Sandle