idw – Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Nachrichten, Termine, Experten

Grafik: idw-Logo
Science Video Project

idw-News App:


Google Play Store

17.06.2024 10:53

The bending and breaking of bacteria

Theresa Hübner Pressestelle
Universität Bayreuth

    A research team involving the University of Bayreuth has investigated the locomotion of filamentous cyanobacteria - one of the oldest life forms on earth. The results provide important approaches for the use of cyanobacteria in biotechnology.


    What for?

    Cyanobacteria are one of the most important forms of life on earth: they have been instrumental in generating oxygen in the atmosphere and bind significant amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide. They use sunlight as an energy source and therefore offer promising approaches for biotechnology. Due to their thread-like structure with a similar thickness to a carbon fiber, they could be used, for example, in adaptive biomaterials in which the shape can be changed by light. A better understanding of their movement properties thus contributes to the technological use of cyanobacteria.


    Some species of cyanobacteria form long filaments composed of a few to more than 1,000 individual cells. The bacteria can move around in this form. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, the University of Göttingen and the University of Bayreuth have now investigated the principles of this locomotion. The team led by Prof. Dr. Oliver Bäumchen from the Chair of Experimental Physics V at the University of Bayreuth was also involved in the study, which was recently published in eLife.

    The Bayreuth researchers guided two types of filamentous cyanobacteria into channels consisting of individual columns in the micrometer range. To measure the bending behavior, they used so-called "micropipette force spectroscopy", for which Bäumchen's laboratory is also internationally renowned. In this experimental approach, the researchers manipulate the cyanobacteria with a wafer-thin glass needle so that the bacterial filaments are pressed between two columns of a channel. The glass needle can simultaneously measure the acting forces with very high precision. "We discovered that the species Oscillatoria lutea is less flexible than the species Kamptonema animale, which has important implications for its potential use in biotechnology," says Bäumchen.

    In another experiment, the filamentous cyanobacteria finally encountered an obstacle within the tiny channels. Bacterial filaments over a length of around 150 micrometers bent, while shorter filaments remained straight. "Interestingly, the length of most cyanobacteria is also in this range," reports Stefan Karpitschka, group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization. He continues: "This means that slight changes in the length of a population change its movement. This indicates a natural tipping point at which the bacteria adapt their behavior to external conditions."

    Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

    Prof. Dr. Oliver Bäumchen
    Chair of Experimental Physics V
    University of Bayreuth
    Phone: +49 (0) 921 / 55-3343


    Quantifying gliding forces of filamentous cyanobacteria by self-buckling. Maximilian Kurjahn, Antaran Deka, Antoine Girot, Leila Abbaspour, Stefan Klumpp, Maike Lorenz, Oliver Bäumchen, Stefan Karpitschka. eLife (2024)


    From a length of about 150 micrometers, filamentous cyanobacteria begin to bend when they encounter an obstacle.
    From a length of about 150 micrometers, filamentous cyanobacteria begin to bend when they encounter ...

    MPI-DS, Kurjahn

    Merkmale dieser Pressemitteilung:
    Journalisten, Wissenschaftler
    Biologie, Physik / Astronomie, Werkstoffwissenschaften


    From a length of about 150 micrometers, filamentous cyanobacteria begin to bend when they encounter an obstacle.

    Zum Download



    Die Suche / Erweiterte Suche im idw-Archiv

    Sie können Suchbegriffe mit und, oder und / oder nicht verknüpfen, z. B. Philo nicht logie.


    Verknüpfungen können Sie mit Klammern voneinander trennen, z. B. (Philo nicht logie) oder (Psycho und logie).


    Zusammenhängende Worte werden als Wortgruppe gesucht, wenn Sie sie in Anführungsstriche setzen, z. B. „Bundesrepublik Deutschland“.


    Die Erweiterte Suche können Sie auch nutzen, ohne Suchbegriffe einzugeben. Sie orientiert sich dann an den Kriterien, die Sie ausgewählt haben (z. B. nach dem Land oder dem Sachgebiet).

    Haben Sie in einer Kategorie kein Kriterium ausgewählt, wird die gesamte Kategorie durchsucht (z.B. alle Sachgebiete oder alle Länder).