Repository logo

High-speed motility originates from cooperatively pushing and pulling flagella bundles in bilophotrichous bacteria.

Published version

Change log


Mohammadinejad, Sarah  ORCID logo
Charsooghi, Mohammad Avalin  ORCID logo
Bachmann, Felix 
Codutti, Agnese 


Bacteria propel and change direction by rotating long, helical filaments, called flagella. The number of flagella, their arrangement on the cell body and their sense of rotation hypothetically determine the locomotion characteristics of a species. The movement of the most rapid microorganisms has in particular remained unexplored because of additional experimental limitations. We show that magnetotactic cocci with two flagella bundles on one pole swim faster than 500 µm·s-1 along a double helical path, making them one of the fastest natural microswimmers. We additionally reveal that the cells reorient in less than 5 ms, an order of magnitude faster than reported so far for any other bacteria. Using hydrodynamic modeling, we demonstrate that a mode where a pushing and a pulling bundle cooperate is the only possibility to enable both helical tracks and fast reorientations. The advantage of sheathed flagella bundles is the high rigidity, making high swimming speeds possible.


Funder: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft; FundRef:

Funder: IMPRS on Multiscale Biosystems

Funder: French National Research Agency; FundRef:; Grant(s): ANR Tremplin-ERC: ANR-16-TERC-0025-01


Magnetococcus marinus, dark-field microscopy, magnetotactic bacteria, microswimmer, path tracking, physics of living systems, Alphaproteobacteria, Flagella, Hydrodynamics, Models, Biological, Movement, Rotation

Journal Title


Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (FA 835/7-2)
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (KL 818/2-2)
Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (57314018)
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 937 (A21))
Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR-16-TERC-0025-01)