Katie M. Ford, Ravi Chawla, Pushkar P. Lele
The role of flagellar motors in bacterial motility and chemotaxis is well-understood. Recent discoveries suggest that flagellar motors are able to remodel in response to a variety of environmental stimuli and are among the triggers for surface colonization and infections. The precise mechanisms by which motors remodel and promote cellular adaptation likely depend on key motor attributes. The photomultiplier-based bead-tracking technique presented here enables accurate biophysical characterization of motor functions, including adaptations in motor speeds and switch-dynamics. This approach offers the advantage of real-time tracking and the ability to probe motor behavior over extended durations. The protocols discussed can be readily extended to study flagellar motors in a variety of bacterial species.