Gliding motility in cyanobacterial: observations and possible explanations

Arch Microbiol. Jul-Aug 2000;174(1-2):11-7. doi: 10.1007/s002030000187.


Cyanobacteria are a morphologically diverse group of phototrophic prokaryotes that are capable of a peculiar type of motility characterized as gliding. Gliding motility requires contact with a solid surface and occurs in a direction parallel to the long axis of the cell or filament. Although the mechanistic basis for gliding motility in cyanobacteria has not been established, recent ultrastructural work has helped to identify characteristic structural features that may play a role in this type of locomotion. Among these features are the distinct cell surfaces formed by specifically arranged protein fibrils and organelle-like structures, which may be involved in the secretion of mucilage during locomotion. The possible role of these ultrastructural features, as well as consequences for understanding the molecular basis of gliding motility in cyanobacteria, are the topic of this review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Wall / ultrastructure
  • Cyanobacteria / physiology*
  • Cyanobacteria / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Models, Biological
  • Movement / physiology
  • Mucus / metabolism
  • Organelles / ultrastructure