December 7, 2022


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How do bacteria move?  The mystery was solved years ago

How do bacteria move? The mystery was solved years ago

The team dealing with the investigation of this case was led by Edward Eagleman, who, along with his colleagues, used the benefits of microscopy and advanced computer modeling. Thanks to this combination, the researchers were able to observe what no conventional microscope could capture.

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Although it was clear that the bacteria moved thanks to structures that acted like makeshift fans, it was not entirely clear how this happened. The solution to the puzzle turned out to be a bit surprising, because the aforementioned “fans” consist of a single protein. Thanks to a new approach, scientists have observed this strange structure on the scale of individual atoms.

Bacteria contain organelles called flagella, which are made up of thousands of identical elements. In order to be able to move, bacteria need a rotating, switch-like fan. For decades, scientists have wondered how these microorganisms were able to do this. Computer modeling and electron microscopy aided, allowing imaging with calculated precision in atoms.

Bacteria contain flagella, which contains proteins found in 11 different states

Under these conditions, the team concluded that the protein that makes up the flagellum may exist in 11 different states. Due to the combination of these cases, it is possible to form the shape of the key. Scientists also decided to analyze flagella that occur in archaic species Saccharolobus Islandicus It found that its protein is present in 10 different states. However, the end result was identical: the whip formed a shape that facilitates movement. This is a great example of convergence: bacteria and archaea have similar evolutionary solutions, although they exist independently of each other.

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As with birds, bats, and bees, which independently evolved wings to fly, the evolution of bacteria and archaea led to similar solutions in both cases. Since these biological structures appeared on Earth billions of years ago, the 50 years it took to understand them may be less than initially thought.Eagleman concludes