Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Commun. 2014 Sep 19;5:4913. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5913.

Vibrio cholerae use pili and flagella synergistically to effect motility switching and conditional surface attachment.

Author information

Department of Bioengineering, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, California NanoSystems Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1600, USA.
Rudolf Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics, University of Oxford, 1 Keble Road, Oxford, OX1 3NP, United Kingdom.
Department of Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA.
Contributed equally


We show that Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of cholera, use their flagella and mannose-sensitive hemagglutinin (MSHA) type IV pili synergistically to switch between two complementary motility states that together facilitate surface selection and attachment. Flagellar rotation counter-rotates the cell body, causing MSHA pili to have periodic mechanical contact with the surface for surface-skimming cells. Using tracking algorithms at 5 ms resolution we observe two motility behaviours: 'roaming', characterized by meandering trajectories, and 'orbiting', characterized by repetitive high-curvature orbits. We develop a hydrodynamic model showing that these phenotypes result from a nonlinear relationship between trajectory shape and frictional forces between pili and the surface: strong pili-surface interactions generate orbiting motion, increasing the local bacterial loiter time. Time-lapse imaging reveals how only orbiting mode cells can attach irreversibly and form microcolonies. These observations suggest that MSHA pili are crucial for surface selection, irreversible attachment, and ultimately microcolony formation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center