SUMMARY: MVII-1 and H13–3, two strains with five to ten peritrichously inserted complex flagella, were studied with respect to motility and chemotaxis. Cells of both these strains move rapidly with speeds up to 40 μm s () and 60 μm s () respectively. Increasing viscosity causes little reduction in their swimming velocities as compared with propelled by plain flagella. It is suggested that complex flagella possess a high ‘flexural rigidity’, which serves to maintain a helix conformation favourable for propulsive efficiency at increased viscosities. Chemotaxis in MVII-1 and H13–3 was studied and the conditions required have been defined using the capillary tube assay. All 20 common -amino acids and -homoserine were shown to be attractive to MVII-1 with thresholds varying from 10 M (proline) to 10 M (aspartate). Leucine, proline and lysine elicited optimal responses. H13–3 was also attracted by -amino acids except for leucine, which elicited no response. Aspartate was a significantly better attractant of H13–3 than of MVII-1, and glycine, isoleucine, homoserine, serine, threonine, cysteine, glutamine and glutamate were poorer attractants. Chemotaxis towards various carbohydrates was generally better in H13–3 than in MVII-1. It is concluded that bacteria with complex flagella are efficient swimmers in viscous environments and are capable of responding to chemotactic stimuli.


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