gliding

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Chrysopelea paradisi - Paradise Tree Snake; GIFs might be showing  Chrysopelea ornata - Golden Tree Snake; their coloration widely varies (thanks for the comment lawsafizzix). Read more on National Geographic and flyingsnake.org. Watch Jake Socha TEDxVideo:


Photos by Jake Socha and Tim Laman. Gif video sources 1.) PBS and 2.) IoP

Paper: J.J. Socha, Gliding Flight in Chrysopelea: Turning a Snake into a Wing (free acces).

Going against the flow: Targeting bacterial motility to combat disease

Mycoplasma gallisepticum causes chronic respiratory disease in birds and is related to the human pathogen Mycoplasma pneumoniae, the causative agent of human bronchitis and pneumonia. Over the course of evolution, mycoplasmas have thrown most of their genetic material over board, resulting in one of the smallest bacterial genomes. This is what makes them such efficiently adapted pathogens in humans and animals.

The gliding motility of M. gallisepticum was first observed in the 1960s.  First author Ivana Indikova and study director Michael Szostak of the Institute of Microbiology at the Vetmeduni Vienna have found that gliding requires the proteins GapA, CrmA and Mgc2.

“If the bacteria are missing one of these three proteins, they are no longer able to move. We want to know if non-motile mycoplasmas are less infectious. If that were the case, we could target the motility genes to turn them off and so render the bacteria harmless,” Szostak explains.

The ability to glide gives the pathogens certain advantages. It remains unknown, however, which stimuli M. gallisepticum responds to when gliding.

Szostak suspects: “Most mycoplasmas cannot glide. Gliding species have so far been found only in the respiratory and genital tracts - places in which there is a directional mucus flow. We believe that the gliding bacteria possibly move against this flow in order to reach deeper-lying regions of the body. We are currently planning further experiments to attempt to answer this question.”

Gliding motility could even contribute to the ability of mycoplasmas to invade and traverse body cells. This could allow them to safely evade the body’s immune system and the infection could spread efficiently through the host body.

Caption: This image shows Mycoplasma gallisepticum on epithelial cells of a chicken trachea.  Credit: Photo: Michael Szostak / Vetmeduni Vienna