When looking at bacteria, you typically see also flagella: long hairs that protrudes from the bacteria’s body. The key function of the flagella is movement – what scientists call ‘motility’. The flagella give the bacteria the ability to swim in their environment by rotating like propellers. Bacteria can have a different number of flagella, and flagella are important because there is a clear correlation between motility and infection.
Dr Hideyuki Matsunami of the Trans-Membrane Trafficking Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), together with a team of scientists, explored some aspects of the formation of flagella in research that may have implications for contrasting bacterial infections. They published their findings in Scientific Reports.
“When you have a bacterial infection, the first action is to take antibiotics,” said Prof Fadel Samatey, leader of the Trans-Membrane Trafficking Unit and one of the authors of the study. “The goal of antibiotics is to kill any bacterium. But this goal has side effects, because not all the bacteria that live in our body are harmful…”