High-resolution, long-term characterization of bacterial motility using optical tweezers

Taejin L. Min, Patrick J. Mears, Lon M. Chubiz, Christopher V. Rao, Ido Golding, Yann R. Chemla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a single-cell motility assay, which allows the quantification of bacterial swimming in a well-controlled environment, for durations of up to an hour and with a temporal resolution greater than the flagellar rotation rates of ∼100 Hz. The assay is based on an instrument combining optical tweezers, light and fluorescence microscopy, and a microfluidic chamber. Using this device we characterized the long-term statistics of the run-tumble time series in individual Escherichia coli cells. We also quantified higher-order features of bacterial swimming, such as changes in velocity and reversals of swimming direction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)831-835
Number of pages5
JournalNature Methods
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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