In tight spaces, bacteria make a break for it

In tight spaces, bacteria make a break for it ...

Bacteria are altered when they enter tight spaces, making a beeline to escape confinement, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Nearly all organisms have bacteria that live symbiotically on or within their bodies. The Hawaiian bobtail bacteriol, Vibrio fischeri, has an exclusive symbiotic connection. It has a whip-like tail that it uses to swim to certain places in the squids body.

A research team led by Jonathan Lynch, who was a postdoctoral fellow at the Pacific Biosciences Research Center (PBRC) at the US Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), developed controlled chambers in which the bacteria could observe the Vibrio bacteria swimming. Using microscopy, the team discovered that as the bacteria moved between open areas and tight spaces, they swim differently.

Bacteries appeared to meander with no discernible patternchanging direction randomly and at different times in time Upon entering into confined spaces, they changed their swimming paths to escape from confinement.

Fortunately, Lynch, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, discovered that bacteria were causing problems in tight spaces. After looking at more closely, we discovered that bacteria were actively swimming out of tight spaces.

Microbes often traverse complicated routes, sometimes fleeing tight spaces in tissues, before colonizing preferred sites in their host organism. Despite the fact that these physical features are discovered throughout many bacteria-animal relationships, the relationship between the squid and this bacterium is a useful model for how bacteria survive with other animals.

While bacteria navigate complex environments to enter specific habitats, we believe tight spaces may be a valuable tool for some bacteria to swiftly swim through the tight spaces, but for others, they turn around before going too far.

The researchers hope to elucidate how these bacteria are altering their swimming activity in the future, as well as determining if other bacteria do.

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