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Complexity of bacterial flagellum studied

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From ScienceDaily:

A team of Japanese researchers led by Homma’s laboratory of Nagoya University have now purified the stator protein MotA from a bacterium found in hot springs (Aquifex aeolicus) and analyzed its three-dimensional structure using electron microscopy mainly in cooperation with Namba’s laboratory of Osaka University. They found that it can form a structure of four MotA molecules (called a tetramer), which differs in shape from the previously predicted complex. The study was recently published in Scientific Reports.

The MotA protein spans the bacterial membrane, and has previously been shown to form a tetramer complex with another transmembrane protein, MotB, creating the stator. In this latest work, MotA was expressed and purified from A. aeolicus, and found to be structurally stable. Assessment of its interactive potential revealed it can form a tetramer even in the absence of MotB. More. Paper. (public access) – Norihiro Takekawa, Naoya Terahara, Takayuki Kato, Mizuki Gohara, Kouta Mayanagi, Atsushi Hijikata, Yasuhiro Onoue, Seiji Kojima, Tsuyoshi Shirai, Keiichi Namba, Michio Homma. The tetrameric MotA complex as the core of the flagellar motor stator from hyperthermophilic bacterium. Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 31526 DOI: 10.1038/srep31526

Often pointed to by ID theorists as an example of design in nature.

See also: “Incredible ”bacterial rotors , varying torques, imaged

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4 Replies to “Complexity of bacterial flagellum studied

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Bacterial Flagellum – A Sheer Wonder Of Intelligent Design – video

    Electron Microscope Photograph of Flagellum Hook-Basal Body

    Bacterial Flagellum: Visualizing the Complete Machine In Situ
    Excerpt: Electron tomography of frozen-hydrated bacteria, combined with single particle averaging, has produced stunning images of the intact bacterial flagellum, revealing features of the rotor, stator and export apparatus.

    The Flagellar Filament Cap: Up close micro-photograph and animations of cap – Jonathan M. – August 2013
    Excerpt: We are so used to thinking about biological machines at a macroscopic level that it is all too easy to overlook the molecular structure of their individual components. The closer we inspect biochemical systems, such as flagella, the more the elegant design — as well as the magnitude of the challenge to Darwinism — becomes apparent.

    Structural diversity of bacterial flagellar motors – 2011
    Excerpt: Figure 3 – Manual segmentation of conserved (solid colours) and unconserved (dotted lines) motor components based on visual inspection.

    Incredible images reveal bacteria motor parts in unprecedented detail March 15, 2016
    Excerpt: In flagellar motors, the turning force is produced by a ring of structures called stators around the motor. The team found that Campylobacter jejuni had almost twice as many stators positioned around the motor than in Salmonella, and that these structures sat in a wider ring. More stators provide increased torque, and the increased width of the ring means individual stators exert more leverage when rotating the helical propeller.

    Flagellar Diversity Challenges Darwinian Evolution, Not Intelligent Design – Casey Luskin – July 22, 2015
    Excerpt: flagella are distributed in a polyphyletic manner that doesn’t fit what we’d expect from common ancestry,,,

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    The Bacterial Flagellum: A Paradigm for Design – Jonathan M. – Sept. 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, so striking is the appearance of intelligent design that researchers have modeled the assembly process (of the bacterial flagellum) in view of finding inspiration for enhancing industrial operations (McAuley et al.). Not only does the flagellum manifestly exhibit engineering principles, but the engineering involved is far superior to humanity’s best achievements. The flagellum exhibits irreducible complexity in spades. In all of our experience of cause-and-effect, we know that phenomena of this kind are uniformly associated with only one type of cause – one category of explanation – and that is intelligent mind. Intelligent design succeeds at precisely the point at which evolutionary explanations break down.

    Two Flagella Are Better than One – September 3, 2014
    Excerpt: The assembly instructions,, are even more irreducibly complex than the motor itself. Parts are arriving on time and moving into place in a programmed sequence, with feedback to the nucleus affecting how many parts are to be manufactured. Dr. Jonathan Wells added, “What we see is irreducible complexity all the way down.” Twelve years of closer looks at these astonishing machines have only amplified those conclusions.

    Biologist Howard Berg at Harvard calls the Bacterial Flagellum
    “the most efficient machine in the universe.”

    Souped-Up Hyper-Drive Flagellum Discovered – December 3, 2012
    Excerpt: Get a load of this — a bacterium that packs a gear-driven, seven-engine, magnetic-guided flagellar bundle that gets 0 to 300 micrometers in one second, ten times faster than E. coli.
    If you thought the standard bacterial flagellum made the case for intelligent design, wait till you hear the specs on MO-1,,,
    Harvard’s mastermind of flagellum reverse engineering, this paper describes the Ferrari of flagella.
    “Instead of being a simple helically wound propeller driven by a rotary motor, it is a complex organelle consisting of 7 flagella and 24 fibrils that form a tight bundle enveloped by a glycoprotein sheath…. the flagella of MO-1 must rotate individually, and yet the entire bundle functions as a unit to comprise a motility organelle.”
    To feel the Wow! factor, jump ahead to Figure 6 in the paper. It shows seven engines in one, arranged in a hexagonal array, stylized by the authors in a cross-sectional model that shows them all as gears interacting with 24 smaller gears between them. The flagella rotate one way, and the smaller gears rotate the opposite way to maximize torque while minimizing friction. Download the movie from the Supplemental Information page to see the gears in action.

    Hiroyuki Matsuura, Nobuo Noda, Kazuharu Koide Tetsuya Nemoto and Yasumi Ito
    Excerpt from bottom page 7: Note that the physical principle of flagella motor does not belong to classical mechanics, but to quantum mechanics. When we can consider applying quantum physics to flagella motor, we can find out the shift of energetic state and coherent state.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:


    Fine tuning of Light, Atmosphere, and Water to Photosynthesis (etc..) – video

  4. 4

    I love the FliK molecules that apparently measure the hook length as partially explained at

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