Encapsulated bacteria deform lipid vesicles into flagellated swimmers

Lucas Le Nagard, Aidan T. Brown, Angela Dawson, Vincent A. Martinez, Wilson C. K. Poon*, Margarita Staykova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We study a synthetic system of motile Escherichia coli bacteria encapsulated inside giant lipid vesicles. Forces exerted by the bacteria on the inner side of the membrane are sufficient to extrude membrane tubes filled with one or several bacteria. We show that a physical coupling between the membrane tube and the flagella of the enclosed cells transforms the tube into an effective helical flagellum propelling the vesicle. We develop a simple theoretical model to estimate the propulsive force from the speed of the vesicles, and demonstrate the good efficiency of this coupling mechanism. Together, these results point to novel design principles for conferring motility to synthetic cells.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2206096119
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
Issue number34
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • cond-mat.soft
  • physics.bio-ph
  • Artificial Cells/microbiology
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Lipids
  • Escherichia coli/cytology
  • Flagella/physiology
  • Cytoplasmic Vesicles/microbiology


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