April 22, 2008

Cell Motility: The Flagella, mostly

Posted in Microbiology tagged , , , , at 4:25 am by D. Borst

Thank You cuplantdiversity

Though not universal, one of the oft recognized characteristics of life is that an entity is able to move under its own power. Indeed, such an ability is often necessary for organisms as they need to be able to relocate to areas of greater nutrient concentration, or lower predator concentration.

Microorganisms are no different. Despite their tiny size, microorganisms have developed a number of distinct strategies for controlling their locomotion, which will be the subject of today’s post. By far the most common means of locomotion in microorganisms is the flagella, a long whip like structure that allows microorganisms to propel themselves through the expense of their chemiosmotic gradient. Additionally there is the mysterious movement through a process known as *gliding*, and vertical motion through control of gas vacuoles. While other forms of cell motility exist, these are the three that I shall touch on today, and most of my time will be spent discussing the flagella.

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