Modeling Torque Versus Speed, Shot Noise, and Rotational Diffusion of the Bacterial Flagellar Motor

Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.
Physical Review Letters (Impact Factor: 7.51). 12/2009; 103(24):248102. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.103.248102
Source: PubMed


We present a minimal physical model for the flagellar motor that enables bacteria to swim. Our model explains the experimentally measured torque-speed relationship of the proton-driven E. coli motor at various pH and temperature conditions. In particular, the dramatic drop of torque at high rotation speeds (the "knee") is shown to arise from saturation of the proton flux. Moreover, we show that shot noise in the proton current dominates the diffusion of motor rotation at low loads. This suggests a new way to probe the discreteness of the energy source, analogous to measurements of charge quantization in superconducting tunnel junctions.

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