Bacterial swimming


Bacteria are fascinating micro-organisms, capable of sensing their surroundings and propelling themselves towards favorable environmental conditions. In the case of Escherichia coli, this bacterium uses multiple flagellar filaments to propel itself. Each flagellar filament is rotated by a motor, one of the very few rotary motors found in Nature. These bacterial flagellar motors (BFMs) are only 45 nm in diameter, yet can rotate at speeds of 100 Hz and generate torques over 1000 pN·nm. In our research, we aim to investigate the dynamics and mechanisms of this molecular motor using tweezers instrumentation. Interested master/bachelor students should be highly motivated and dedicated, and have a background in physics, biology, or chemistry. The project would involve a combination of designing and conducting experiments and using various data analysis software to interpret the experimental results.
Contact Maarten van Oene (m.m.vanoene [at] tudelft [dot] nl) for more information.

Researchers currently involved

  • Maarten van Oene
  • Seungkyu Ha
  • Yera Ussembayev
  • Richard Janissen
  • Ilyong Jung

The figure shows a swimming bacterium with multiple flagella and the detailed structure and electron micrograph of the flagellar motor complex which propels a single flagellum. (source: