Flagellum failure lets bacteria turn

Buckling of appendage drives tiny two-point turn

By Cristy Gelling, 14:04 PM July 16, 2013

When headed the wrong way, some bacteria turn by letting their propellers flop.

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.

A multiflagellated bacterium like Escherichia coli...

Source URL: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/flagellum-failure-lets-bacteria-turn