Flagellar motility in bacteria structure and function of flagellar motor

Int Rev Cell Mol Biol. 2008;270:39-85. doi: 10.1016/S1937-6448(08)01402-0.


Bacterial flagella are filamentous organelles that drive cell locomotion. They thrust cells in liquids (swimming) or on surfaces (swarming) so that cells can move toward favorable environments. At the base of each flagellum, a reversible rotary motor, which is powered by the proton- or the sodium-motive force, is embedded in the cell envelope. The motor consists of two parts: the rotating part, or rotor, that is connected to the hook and the filament, and the nonrotating part, or stator, that conducts coupling ion and is responsible for energy conversion. Intensive genetic and biochemical studies of the flagellum have been conducted in Salmonella typhimurium and Escherichia coli, and more than 50 gene products are known to be involved in flagellar assembly and function. The energy-coupling mechanism, however, is still not known. In this chapter, we survey our current knowledge of the flagellar system, based mostly on studies from Salmonella, E. coli, and marine species Vibrio alginolyticus, supplemented with distinct aspects of other bacterial species revealed by recent studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Flagella / physiology*
  • Flagella / ultrastructure*
  • Movement