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Name: Krista
Status: Student
Grade:  9-12
Location: MA
Country: United States
Date: September 2007

I have to find out how bacteria moves from one object to another. I have looked at every single site that i know of, and i still can't find the answer.

Different bacteria use different methods, but generally they have hair-like structures that wave back and forth, whip around, or spin. There are other unicellular microorganisms that aren't bacteria (like amoebas or algae) that use different methods as well. Because of their small size, the structures don't work like a fish's tail or a propeller. The physics of water and swimming at this scale are quite different than what we experience at our size scale (similar to how the physics of bumble bees flying are different than birds). Basically, the bacteria use the viscosity of the water to pull or push themselves along, rather than flinging water behind (a la a propeller).

Hopes this helps,

Bacteria are small enough that they ride on objects and are carried from one place to another. For instance, they can hitch a ride on your hands, on a water droplet from your mouth when you sneeze or on a spoon. They can be carried in water or on food. Some bacteria are motile, which means they have flagella that can propel them through a medium. However, being motile doesn't move them from one object to another, only from place to place on that same object. To prevent bacteria from spreading, prevent their access to another object by breaking the chain and not becoming a go between.


Hi Krista!

Bacteria are probably the most ancient forms of life and mostly have movements. They move using parts of their body, called flagella. They also can glide, or twitch, and also move through changes of buoyancy.

Many bacteria use flagella (whip-like structures) for locomotion. The flagella of bacteria are quite interesting since they have a simple but very ingenious design. A bacterial flagellum is a miniature mechanical device with a movement that is caused by rotation of the shaft, the part where the flagellum is attached to the cell. It is an extra cellular structure that works like a little propellor. Motile bacteria are attracted or repelled by certain stimuli in behaviors called taxes: these include chemotaxis (chemically), phototaxis (through light) and magnetotaxis (though magnetism).

Thanks for asking NEWTON!
Dr. Mabel Rodrigues)

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