Bacterial Flagellins: Does Size Matter?

Nicholas M. Thomson, Florian M. Rossmann, Josie L. Ferreira, Teige R. Matthews-Palmer, Morgan Beeby, Mark J. Pallen

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The bacterial flagellum is the principal organelle of motility in bacteria. Here, we address the question of size when applied to the chief flagellar protein flagellin and the flagellar filament. Surprisingly, nature furnishes multiple examples of ‘giant flagellins’ greater than a thousand amino acids in length, with large surface-exposed hypervariable domains. We review the contexts in which these giant flagellins occur, speculate as to their functions, and highlight the potential for biotechnology to build on what nature provides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-581
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Issue number7
Early online date16 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • bacterial flagellum
  • evolution
  • flagellin
  • surface display

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