Live-Cell Imaging of the Assembly and Ejection Processes of the Bacterial Flagella by Fluorescence Microscopy

Xiang Yu Zhuang, Chao Kai Tseng, Chien Jung Lo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Bacterial flagella are molecular machines used for motility and chemotaxis. The flagellum consists of a thin extracellular helical filament as a propeller, a short hook as a universal joint, and a basal body as a rotary motor. The filament is made up of more than 20,000 flagellin molecules and can grow to several micrometers long but only 20 nanometers thick. The regulation of flagellar assembly and ejection is important for bacterial environmental adaptation. However, due to the technical difficulty to observe these nanostructures in live cells, our understanding of the flagellar growth and loss is limited. In the last three decades, the development of fluorescence microscopy and fluorescence labeling of specific cellular structure has made it possible to perform the real-time observation of bacterial flagellar assembly and ejection processes. Furthermore, flagella are not only critical for bacterial motility but also important antigens stimulating host immune responses. The complete understanding of bacterial flagellar production and ejection is valuable for understanding macromolecular self-assembly, cell adaptation, and pathogen-host interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745
ISSN (Electronic)1940-6029


  • Bacterial flagellum
  • Flagellar ejection
  • Self-assembly


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