Have however, other types are even more fortunate

Have you ever heard of the term amphitrichous flagella? In this lesson, we’ll examine what this term means and look at some examples of organisms that have this type of flagella.

Movement Mechanisms

Have you ever played catch? Catching a ball and doing things that require both of your hands and arms is something that most people do with ease. Having two arms and hands is also something that most people take for granted; so is being able to move freely and easily in any direction. All organisms do not have that luxury.

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If asked to think of an organism, most likely you will think of a more complex one such as a cat, dog, lion, or monkey. However, there are millions of simple microorganisms surrounding you every day. Some of those organisms can move and some cannot. Today we will focus on a movement mechanism, amphitrichous flagella, found in some types of bacteria.

Bacteria ; Flagella

If you’ve ever looked under a microscope, you have probably looked at some single celled organisms, including bacteria.

Movement for bacteria is just as important as movement for other organisms. They move to get out of harm’s way, to obtain energy, and for many other reasons.The most common method that bacteria use to help them gain mobility is by using whip-like appendages called flagella. To move, the bacteria rotate the flagella in a clockwise or counterclockwise motion depending on the desired direction.

Arrangement of Flagella

As we said earlier, movement is a privilege that most of us take for granted. Some bacteria only have one flagellum; however, other types are even more fortunate and have at their disposal more than one flagellum.

One way that bacteria are categorized is by how many flagella they have and by how they are arranged:

  • Monotrichous – One flagellum coming from one end of the cell
  • Amphitrichous – One flagellum coming from each end of the cell (or two flagella in total)
  • Lophotrichous – Several flagella form a tuft that comes from one or both ends of the cell
  • Peritrichous – Several flagella randomly distributed, coming from all around the perimeter of the cell

Amphitrichous Flagella

Think about playing catch with one arm. It would be difficult, right? Playing with two arms would be easier. Amphitrichous bacteria are more like what the average human experiences. This arrangement of one flagellum on each side makes movement easier: amphitrichous bacteria operate one flagellum at a time for smooth and accurate multi-directional travel. This means that they have an advantage over bacteria that have a flagellum on only one end of the cell.Examples of amphitrichous bacteria are:

  • Alcaligenes faecalis – responsible for causing peritonitis, meningitis, and appendicitis
  • Rhodospirillum rubrum – used for fermenting alcohol

So the next time you catch a ball or fold laundry, think about what a privilege it is to be able to do things using both sides of your body for movement.

It is a privilege that humans and amphitrichous bacteria have in common and that many organisms would love to have.

Lesson Summary

Flagella are whip-like growths, used for movement in microorganisms.Bacteria having flagella are categorized in the following manner:

  • Monotrichous – One flagellum coming from one end of the cell
  • Amphitrichous – One flagellum coming from each end of the cell (for a total of two flagella)
  • Lophotrichous – Several flagella form a tuft coming from one or both ends of the cell
  • Peritrichous – Several flagella randomly distributed, coming from various parts of the cell’s perimeter

In amphitrichous bacteria, flagella operate one at a time for smooth and accurate multi-directional travel. Examples of amphitrichous bacteria include alcaligenes faecalis, which causes peritonitis, meningitis, and appendicitis; and rhodospirillum rubrum, which is used for to ferment alcohol.

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