Coordination of flagella on filamentous cells of Escherichia coli

A. Ishihara, J. E. Segall, S. M. Block, H. C. Berg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


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 alternatively clockwise and counter-clockwise, 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 counter-clockwise) 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-237
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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