Movies of swimming motility

Escherichia coli

Rhodobacter sphaeroides


Movies of swarming motility

Escherichia coli swarm

Salmonella typhmurium swarm

Serratia marcescens swarm

Movies of gliding motility


Mycoplasma mobile

Flavobacterium johnsoniae

Movies of Twitching motility

Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Other movies

Tethered bacteria

Escherichia coli patterns

Carpets and microchannels

Miscellaneous movies

Marvels of Bacterial Behavior - History & Physics of Bacterial Motion

Rowland Institute         Harvard University

Gliding in Cytophaga

Cells of Cytophaga sp. strain U67 move over glass by an unknown mechanism at about 2 µm/s. If latex beads are added, they move lengthwise along the cell surface (whether the cell is on glass or not) at about the same speed. The beads move in either direction, passing each other going in opposite directions, even if on the same side of the cell. The first movie shows this phenomenon with beads 0.56 µm dia. When a large aggregate (or blob) of smaller beads (0.13 µm dia.) moves along a cell, it can complete a full cycle up and back, returning to its original position and orientation. The second movie shows this phenomenon with a cell in suspension. We concluded that proteins that bind to glass or latex beads are driven along tracks mounted lengthwise upon the peptidoglycan layer of the cell wall. Since the beads moved longitudinally along the cell surface rather than circumferentially and bent cells moved along glass without difficulty, we concluded that gliding did not require rotation about the cell's long axis. A similar mechanism now appears likely for adventurous motility in Myxococcus xanthus; see Mignot et al (2007).


Cytophaga beads

Cytophaga blob


Lapidus, I.R. and Berg, H.C. Gliding motility of Cytophaga sp. strain U67. J. Bacteriol. 151, 394-398 (1982).

Mignot, T., Shaevitz, J.W., Hartzell, P.L. and Zusman, D.R. Evidence that focal adhesion complexes power bacterial gliding motility. Science 315, 853-856 (2007).

Jarrell, K.F., and McBride, M.J. The surprisingly diverse ways that prokaryotes move. Nat. Rev. Microbiol. 6, 466-476 (2008).