Bacterial motility on a surface: many ways to a common goal

Annu Rev Microbiol. 2003:57:249-73. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.57.030502.091014.


When free-living bacteria colonize biotic or abiotic surfaces, the resultant changes in physiology and morphology have important consequences on their growth, development, and survival. Surface motility, biofilm formation, fruiting body development, and host invasion are some of the manifestations of functional responses to surface colonization. Bacteria may sense the growth surface either directly through physical contact or indirectly by sensing the proximity of fellow bacteria. Extracellular signals that elicit new gene expression include autoinducers, amino acids, peptides, proteins, and carbohydrates. This review focuses mainly on surface motility and makes comparisons to features shared by other surface phenomenon.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Adhesion / physiology
  • Biofilms
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / physiology*
  • Flagella / physiology*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / physiology*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / ultrastructure
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / physiology*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / ultrastructure