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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. 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 and the cytophaga-flavobacteria.

The only understood mechanism involves using type IV pili in such bacteria as Pseudomonas auriginosa 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 [1], and the other using "focal adhesion complexes" distributed along the cell body [2].


  • A review article on this phenomenon. Mark. J. McBride (2001) "BACTERIAL GLIDING MOTILITY: Multiple Mechanisms for Cell Movement over Surfaces", Annual Review of Microbiology, 55: 49-75.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bacterial_gliding". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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