The Mystery of the Motor: Origin, Evolution, and Ecology of Bacterial Swimming

Swimming is a widespread strategy of many bacteria of vastly different lineages, and flagellar motility (swimming by means of a whip-like appendage) produces impressive results. Motile bacteria have distinct advantages over others in their environment – including antibiotic resistance, strategies against predation and viral lysis, and ability to respond to gradients. This comes at a metabolic cost, however, and is the reason behind a highly complex and step-dependent genetic assembly pathway. More intriguing – many bacteria have nearly identical and highly complex motors. How did such a complex machine come to be located in an otherwise simple organism? What secrets of evolution, ecology, and the origins of life can bacterial motility unlock?

Join us in a discussion of bacterial motility, with a focus on marine systems, led by UW graduate student Max Showalter as we talk about the mystery of the motor. Meet us at Ada’s Technical Books (425 15th Ave. E), this Wednesday, Dec 2nd at 7:30 PM.