Assessing swarming of aerobic bacteria from human fecal matter

Arjun S. Byju, Deeti Patel, Weijie Chen, Sridhar Mani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Swarming - swift movement across a surface via flagella propulsion - is a unique property of many bacteria. The role of swarming, particularly among bacterial populations of the human gut microbiome, is not yet fully understood; although, it is becoming an area of increased scientific and clinical inquiry. To further characterize bacterial swarming in human health, an effective assay for swarming that utilizes complex material, such as fecal matter, is necessary. Until now, the vast majority of swarming assays have only been able to accommodate bacteria grown in culture, most often Pseudomonas. These assays tend to use a standard lysogenic broth (LB) agar medium; however, the reagents involved have not been tailored to the inoculation of complex material. In this paper, we offer a specialized protocol for eliciting the swarming of bacteria from frozen human fecal samples. We describe the simple, yet reproducible steps required to perform the assay, identifying an ideal volume of 7.5 μl for inoculation of material, as well as an ideal agar concentration of 0.4%. This protocol typically allows researchers to identify swarming within 24 h after incubation in a standard incubator.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere4008
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 5 2021


  • Agar
  • Bacterial swarming
  • Complex material
  • Frozen samples
  • Human gut microbiome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Plant Science


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