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Bacteria strut their stuff

Videos catch microbes walking on hairlike appendages

2:03pm, October 7, 2010

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Jokes that open with a bacterium walking into a bar just got a little less far-fetched.

Some bacteria can just stand up and toddle away on hairlike legs, a new study shows. The finding, reported October 8 in Science, could help scientists better understand how bacteria form dense antibiotic-resistant communities called biofilms and may lead to better ways to combat troublesome and sometimes deadly microbes.

Researchers had already documented bacteria swimming through liquids or crawling on their bellies across a surface, but no one had ever seen bacteria getting up and walking. No one, that is, until a group of undergraduate students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign made movies of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria moving on a microscope slide. Working under the supervision of Gerard Wong, a biophysicist now at UCLA, the students adapted a technique used by physicists to track microscopic

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