Gliding Bacteria – The Myxobacteria

“Gliding Bacteria”, this name is coined because of its capability to glide over a smooth surface. These group of bacteria are able to move by gliding or creeping.

Gliding bacteria are a mixed collection of gram – ve bacteria those live in water and soil. There are several morphological forms, including slender rods, long filaments, cocci & some miniature tree shaped fruiting bodies.

  1. unicellular, rod shaped bacteria, including the mycobacteria, the Cytophage group and Flexibacter group.
  2. The thread like gliding bacterium Chloroflexus.
  3. bacteria those contain intracellular sulphuric, of which there are trichomes forming (Beggiatoa, thiothrix) and unicellular (Achromatium) organisms.
  4. Sulphur – free bacteria existing as trichomes such as Vitreoscilla, Leucothrix and Saprospira as well as the mouth Oxcillatoria Simonsiella and  Alysiella.
  5. Cyanobacteria, if they are motile at all, move by gliding.

The Flexibacter species are aquatic bacteria. They are long, very flexible cells but not multicellular. During continuous cultivation these become shorter and eventually fragment into coccoid cells. 

Myxcobacteria are differentiated from other gliding chemoheterotrophs by their high G + C content and unicellular morphology. they are soil bacteria and are characterized in their natural habitat by the formation of fruiting bodies that are very small. Such fruiting bodies are found in decaying plant material, rotting wood, tree bark and on the faces of herbivores. The vegetative cells are rods, which are usually quite flexible.

The myxobacteria are soil organisms and are usually detected in nature through the development of their fruiting bodies on solid substrates. Myxobacteria are strict aerobes that fall into two nutritional subgroups:-

  • Bacteriolytic
  • Cellulolytic organisms

If we talk about the speciality of myxobacteria, it can be differentiated from other bacteria by having complexity and advancement of their life cycle. During this cycle, the vegetative cells swarm together and differentiate into a many – called, colored structure called the fruiting body. These fruiting structures are often large enough to be seen with the unaided wye on tree bark and plant debris.

On solid media myxobacteria form very extensive flat colonies. When the vegetative cells inside the colonies aggregate, they differentiate into fruiting bodies that differ in shape, size and pigmentation for the various genera and species of the myxobacteria. During maturation, the cells inside the fruiting bodies become dormant i.e., they are converted to myxospores.

Gaurav Singh

Editor in Chief Medical Microbiology & Recombinant DNA Technology (RDT) Labs - RDT Labs Magazine

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