The nut-and-bolt motion of a bacteriophage sliding along a bacterial flagellum: a complete hydrodynamics model

Sergey A. Karabasov*, Mihail A. Zaitsev, Dmitry A. Nerukh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ‘nut-and-bolt’ mechanism of a bacteriophage-bacteria flagellum translocation motion is modelled by numerically integrating the 3D Stokes equations using a Finite-Element Method (FEM). Following the works by Katsamba and Lauga (Phys Rev Fluids 4(1): 013101, 2019), two mechanical models of the flagellum-phage complex are considered. In the first model, the phage fiber wraps around the smooth flagellum surface separated by some distance. In the second model, the phage fiber is partly immersed in the flagellum volume via a helical groove imprinted in the flagellum and replicating the fiber shape. In both cases, the results of the Stokes solution for the translocation speed are compared with the Resistive Force Theory (RFT) solutions (obtained in Katsamba and Lauga Phys Rev Fluids 4(1): 013101, 2019) and the asymptotic theory in a limiting case. The previous RFT solutions of the same mechanical models of the flagellum-phage complex showed opposite trends for how the phage translocation speed depends on the phage tail length. The current work uses complete hydrodynamics solutions, which are free from the RFT assumptions to understand the divergence of the two mechanical models of the same biological system. A parametric investigation is performed by changing pertinent geometrical parameters of the flagellum-phage complex and computing the resulting phage translocation speed. The FEM solutions are compared with the RFT results using insights provided from the velocity field visualisation in the fluid domain.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9077
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date5 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. To view a copy of this licence, visit

The work of S.A.K. was partly supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant agreement no. 703526.


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