Caister Academic Press

Swimming, Swarming and Sliding Motility in Bacillus subtilis

Anna C. Hughes and Daniel B. Kearns
from: Bacillus: Cellular and Molecular Biology (Third edition) (Edited by: Peter L. Graumann). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2017) Pages: 415-438.


Bacillus subtilis has the capacity for three different types of movement called swimming, swarming, and sliding motility. There has been renewed interest in bacterial motility due in large part to the complex relationship between motility, biofilm formation, and more generally, pathogenesis. Whereas flagellar-mediated motility like swimming and swarming appears to be oppositely regulated with biofilm formation, sliding motility and biofilms appear to be manifestations of the same phenomenon. Furthermore, the study of biofilm formation in ancestral strains of B. subtilis brought attention to the fact that motility of all kinds was severely impaired by domestication of commonly-used laboratory derivatives. In this chapter we will discuss the different motile behaviors found in B. subtilis and the genetic requirements for each. Biofilm formation will be introduced in relation to sliding motility and how regulators of biofilm inhibit the expression and function of flagella. To begin, we will briefly review flagellar structure, assembly, and function as flagella mediate swimming and swarming motility and are the target of motility regulation read more ...
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