Swimming of bacterium Bacillus subtilis with multiple bundles of flagella†
We characterize the bundle properties for three different strains of B. subtilis bacteria with various numbers of flagella. Our study reveals that, surprisingly, the number of bundles is independent of the number of flagella, and the formation of three bundles is always the most frequent case. We assume that this relates to the fact that different mutants have the same body length. There is no significant difference between the bundle width and length for distinct strains, but the projected angle between the bundles increases with the flagellar number. Furthermore, we find that the swimming speed is anti-correlated with the projected angle between the bundles, and the wobbling angle between the swimming direction and cell body increases with the number of flagella. Our findings highlight the impact of geometrical properties of bacteria such as body length and bundle configuration on their motility.