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Published July 1, 1983 | public
Journal Article Open

Coordination of flagella on filamentous cells of Escherichia coli


Video techniques were used to study the coordination of different flagella on single filamentous cells of Escherichia coli. Filamentous, nonseptate cells were produced by introducing a cell division mutation into a strain that was polyhook but otherwise wild type for chemotaxis. Markers for its flagellar motors (ordinary polyhook cells that had been fixed with glutaraldehyde) were attached with antihook antibodies. The markers were driven alternately clockwise and counterclockwise, at angular velocities comparable to those observed when wild-type cells are tethered to glass. The directions of rotation of different markers on the same cell were not correlated; reversals of the flagellar motors occurred asynchronously. The bias of the motors (the fraction of time spent spinning counterclockwise) changed with time. Variations in bias were correlated, provided that the motors were within a few micrometers of one another. Thus, although the directions of rotation of flagellar motors are not controlled by a common intracellular signal, their biases are. This signal appears to have a limited range.

Additional Information

Copyright © 1983 by the American Society for Microbiology. Received 24 February 1983/Accepted 27 April 1983 We thank M. P. Conley for help in strain constructions, M. Meister for developing the recursion relation used in the Appendix, and R. M. Macnab and D. P. Han for sending us a preprint of their manuscript. This work was supported by Public Health Service grant A116478 from the National Institutes of Health.


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