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Crit Rev Microbiol. 1996;22(2):67-100.

Functions of bacterial flagella.

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F. A. Janssens Laboratory of Genetics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium.


Many bacterial species are motile by means of flagella. The structure and implantation of flagella seems related to the specific environments the cells live in. In some cases, the bacteria even adapt their flagellation pattern in response to the environmental conditions they encounter. Swarming cell differentiation is a remarkable example of this phenomenon. Flagella seem to have more functions than providing motility alone. For many pathogenic species, studies have been performed on the contribution of flagella to the virulence, but the result is not clear in all cases. Flagella are generally accepted as being important virulence factors, and expression and repression of flagellation and virulence have in several cases been shown to be linked. Providing motility is always an important feature of flagella of pathogenic bacteria, but adhesive and other properties also have been attributed to these flagella. In nonpathogenic bacterial colonization, flagella are important locomotive and adhesive organelles as well. In several cases where competition between several bacterial species exists, motility by means of flagella is shown to provide a specific advantage for a bacterium. This review gives an overview of studies that have been performed on the significance of flagellation in a wide variety of processes where flagellated bacteria are involved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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