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Bacterial gliding

Bacterial gliding is a process whereby a bacterium can move under its own power. This process does not involve the use of flagella, which is a more common means of motility in bacteria.[1] For many bacteria, the mechanism of gliding is unknown or only partially known, and it seems likely that in fact different bacteria use distinct mechanisms to achieve what is currently referred to as gliding. Gliding is prominent in cyanobacteria, myxobacteria the cytophaga and flavobacteria.

The only understood mechanism involves using type IV pili in such bacteria as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Myxococcus xanthus. In addition, for Myxococcus xanthus A-motility (one of the two motility mechanisms this bacterium has) two other mechanisms have been proposed, one involving ejection of a polysaccharide slime from nozzles at either end of the body [2] and the other using "focal adhesion complexes" distributed along the cell body.[3][4]


  1. ^ McBride, M. . (2001). "Bacterial gliding motility: multiple mechanisms for cell movement over surfaces". Annual review of microbiology 55: 49–75. PMID 11544349. doi:10.1146/annurev.micro.55.1.49.  edit
  2. ^ Merali, Zeeya (3 April 2006), "Bacteria use slime jets to get around", New Scientist, retrieved 17 January 2010 
  3. ^ Mignot, T.; Shaevitz, J.; Hartzell, P.; Zusman, D. (2007). "Evidence that focal adhesion complexes power bacterial gliding motility". Science 315 (5813): 853–856. Bibcode:2007Sci...315..853M. PMID 17289998. doi:10.1126/science.1137223.  edit
  4. ^ Sibley, LDI (Oct 2010). "How apicomplexan parasites move in and out of cells". Curr Opin Biotechnol. 21 (5): 592–8. PMID 20580218. doi:10.1016/j.copbio.2010.05.009.