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Proceedings Paper

Taking control of the flagellar motor
Author(s): Mathieu Gauthier; Dany Truchon; Simon Rainville
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Paper Abstract

Numerous types of bacteria swim in their environment by rotating long helical filaments. At the base of each filament is a tiny rotary motor called the bacterial flagellar motor. A lot is already known about the structure, assembly and function of this splendid molecular machine of nanoscopic dimensions. Nevertheless many fundamental questions remain open and the study of the flagellar motor is a very exciting area of current research. We are developing an in vitro assay to enable studies of the bacterial flagellar motor in precisely controlled conditions and to gain direct access to the inner components of the motor. We partly squeeze a filamentous E. coli bacterium inside a micropipette, leaving a working flagellar motor outside. We then punch a hole through the cell wall at the end of the bacterium located inside the micropipette using a brief train of ultrashort (~60 fs) laser pulses. This enables us to control the rotation of the motor with an external voltage (for at least 15 minutes). In parallel, new methods to monitor the speed of rotation of the motor in the low load (high speed) regime are being developed using various nanoparticules.

Paper Details

Date Published: 12 August 2008
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 7099, Photonics North 2008, 70990F (12 August 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.807183
Show Author Affiliations
Mathieu Gauthier, Ctr. for Optics, Photonics and Lasers, Univ. Laval (Canada)
Dany Truchon, Ctr. for Optics, Photonics and Lasers, Univ. Laval (Canada)
Simon Rainville, Ctr. for Optics, Photonics and Lasers, Univ. Laval (Canada)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7099:
Photonics North 2008

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