Mechanical shear controls bacterial penetration in mucus

Nuris Figueroa-Morales, Leonardo Dominguez-Rubio, Troy Ott, Igor Aronson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Mucus plays crucial roles in higher organisms, from aiding fertilization to protecting the female reproductive tract. Here, we investigate how anisotropic organization of mucus affects bacterial motility. We demonstrate by cryo electron micrographs and elongated tracer particles imaging, that mucus anisotropy and heterogeneity depend on how mechanical stress is applied. In shallow mucus films, we observe bacteria reversing their swimming direction without U-turns. During the forward motion, bacteria burrowed tunnels that last for several seconds and enable them to swim back faster, following the same track. We elucidate the physical mechanism of direction reversal by fluorescent visualization of the flagella: when the bacterial body is suddenly stopped by the mucus structure, the compression on the flagellar bundle causes buckling, disassembly and reorganization on the other side of the bacterium. Our results shed light into motility of bacteria in complex visco-elastic fluids and can provide clues in the propagation of bacteria-born diseases in mucus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9713
JournalScientific reports
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

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mucus
penetration
bacteria
shear
locomotion
fertilization
reversing
buckling
organisms
bundles
tracers
tunnels
anisotropy
propagation
causes
fluids

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Cite this

Figueroa-Morales, Nuris ; Dominguez-Rubio, Leonardo ; Ott, Troy ; Aronson, Igor. / Mechanical shear controls bacterial penetration in mucus. In: Scientific reports. 2019 ; Vol. 9, No. 1.
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Mechanical shear controls bacterial penetration in mucus. / Figueroa-Morales, Nuris; Dominguez-Rubio, Leonardo; Ott, Troy; Aronson, Igor.

In: Scientific reports, Vol. 9, No. 1, 9713, 01.12.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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