Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 9th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

How stomach bug Campylobacter moves

09 September 2020

Stomach Turning

Changing direction while swimming is awkward, we’ve too many flailing limbs to rearrange quickly. Not such a problem for these Campylobacter jejuni. Equipped with a tail-like flagellum at either end on their bodies, they adopt an unusual swimming stroke to twist themselves through the guts of human hosts around the world causing gastroenteritis. In this zoomed in video, each tiny C. jejuni (artificially stained red) rotates its 'rear' flagellum (green) to create propulsion, boosted by the 'front' flagellum which wraps around the body so it points towards the rear. To change direction they simply swap appendages, unwrapping one flagellum and wrapping the other up, helped by the bacterium’s helix-shaped body. As elegant and enviable as C. jejuni‘s swimming turn is, it contributes to nasty stomach infections, so these insights might help design treatments to limit their flagella movement.

Written by John Ankers

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.