Failed Escape: Solid Surfaces Prevent Tumbling ofEscherichia coli


Molaei M, Barry M, Stocker R, Sheng J. Failed Escape: Solid Surfaces Prevent Tumbling ofEscherichia coli. Physical review letters [Internet]. 2014;113 (6) :068103.


Understanding how bacteria move close to surfaces is crucial for a broad range of microbial processes including biofilm formation, bacterial dispersion, and pathogenic infections. We used digital holographic microscopy to capture a large number (>103) of three-dimensional Escherichia coli trajectories near and far from a surface. We found that within 20  μm from a surface tumbles are suppressed by 50% and reorientations are largely confined to surface-parallel directions, preventing escape of bacteria from the near-surface region. A hydrodynamic model indicates that the tumble suppression is likely due to a surface-induced reduction in the hydrodynamic force responsible for the flagellar unbundling that causes tumbling. These findings imply that tumbling does not provide an effective means to escape trapping near surfaces.

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Last updated on 08/24/2015