Effect of osmolarity and viscosity on the motility of pathogenic and saprophytic Leptospira



Shuichi Nakamura, Department of Applied Physics, Graduate School of Engineering, Tohoku University, 6-6-05 Aoba, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 980-8579, Japan.

Tel.: +81 22 795 5849; fax: +81 22 795 7957; email: naka@bp.apph.tohoku.ac.jp


The motility of bacteria is an important factor in their infectivity. In this study, the motility of Leptospira, a member of the spirochete family that causes a zoonotic disease known as leptospirosis, was analyzed in different viscous or osmotic conditions. Motility assays revealed that both pathogenic and saprophytic strains increase their swimming speeds with increasing viscosity. However, only pathogenic Leptospira interrogans maintained vigorous motility near physiological osmotic conditions. This suggests that active motility in physiological conditions is advantageous when Leptospira enters hosts and when it migrates toward target tissues.