Marvels of bacterial behavior
This event is part of the Physics Department Colloquia Series.
Escherichia coli swims by rotating long, thin, helical filaments that arise at different points on the cell surface. Each filament is driven at its base by a rotary motor only 45 nm in diameter made from about 20 different kinds of parts. Cells are able to swim up gradients of chemical attractants by controlling the direction of rotation of these motors, a process known as chemotaxis. I will touch upon the history of this subject, tell you about some of the physics that E. coli knows, and describe some recent experiments related to the signaling pathway, the operation of the flagellar motor, and the social behavior observed when cells flock.