Thriller Solved: Why Meals Poisoning Micro organism Are So Good at Swimming Via Your Intestine

Fluorescent Bacteria

C. Jejuni cell our bodies (crimson) and flagella (inexperienced). Credit score: Eli Cohen / Imperial Faculty London

Researchers have solved the thriller of why a species of micro organism that causes meals poisoning can swim sooner in stickier liquids, corresponding to inside guts.

The findings might doubtlessly assist scientists halt the micro organism in its tracks, as a result of they present how the form of the micro organism’s physique and the parts that assist it swim are all depending on one another to work. This implies any disruption to 1 half might cease the micro organism getting by way of to the intestine.

Campylobacter jejuni is liable for tens of millions of meals poisoning instances yearly, and a key step in its invasion of the physique is swimming by way of the viscous (sticky) mucous layer of the center. Researchers have noticed that C. jejuni swims sooner in viscous liquids than in less-viscous liquids, like water, however till now they didn’t know why.

Now, researchers from Imperial Faculty London, Gakushuin College in Tokyo and the College of Texas Southwestern Medical Middle have filmed C. jejuni in motion to uncover the thriller. Their outcomes are printed at present (July 2, 2020) in PLOS Pathogens.


The cell our bodies and flagella of C. jejuni are made to fluorescent, displaying how they swim by wrapping their flagella round their our bodies. Credit score: Eli Cohen / Imperial Faculty London

C. jejuni makes use of its two opposing tails, referred to as flagella, to assist it transfer. It has a flagellum at every finish of its physique that spin round to propel itself by way of liquid. Nevertheless, the opposing flagella have confused scientists.

Co-first writer Dr Eli Cohen, from the Division of Life Sciences at Imperial, stated: “It seemed very strange that the bacteria had a tail at both ends – it’s like having two opposing motors at either end of a ship. It was only when we watched the bacteria in action that we could see how the two tails work cleverly together to help the bacteria move through the body.”

The crew created C. jejuni strains which have fluorescent flagella and used high-speed microscopy to see what occurred as they swam round. They found that to maneuver ahead, the micro organism wrap their main flagella round their helically formed our bodies, which means each flagella have been then pointing in the identical course and offering unified thrust.

To alter course, they modified which flagella have been wrapped round their physique, enabling fast 180 diploma turns and potential escape from confined areas.

In addition they discovered that the method of wrapping the flagella was simpler when swimming by way of viscous liquids; the stickiness serving to push the main flagella again across the physique. In less-viscous liquids neither flagella have been capable of wrap across the physique.

Lead researcher Dr Morgan Beeby, from the Division of Life Sciences at Imperial, stated: “Our research kills two birds with one stone: in getting down to perceive how C. jejuni strikes, we resolved the obvious paradoxes of the way it swims in a single course with opposing flagella and the way it swims sooner in additional viscous liquid.

“In addition to fixing some long-standing mysteries, the analysis might additionally assist researchers discover new technique to forestall an infection by C. jejuni, by focusing on any of its interconnected constructions that assist it transfer round.”

The analysis additionally revealed that the helical form of the micro organism physique is essential for permitting the flagella to wrap round it, displaying how the 2 parts are reliant on one another. This provides to the crew’s earlier work displaying how components of the ‘motor’ that drives the flagella are co-dependent, and that none would work with out the others.

Reference: “Campylobacter jejuni motility integrates specialized cell shape, flagellar filament, and motor, to coordinate action of its opposed flagella” by Eli J. Cohen, Daisuke Nakane, Yoshiki Kabata, David R. Hendrixson, Takayuki Nishizaka and Morgan Beeby, 2 July 2020, PLOS Pathogens.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008620

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