Hidden stochastic nature of a single bacterial motor.
The rotary flagellar motor of Escherichia coli bacterium switches stochastically between the clockwise (CW) and counterclockwise (CCW) direction. We found that the CW and CCW intervals could be described by a gamma distribution, suggesting the existence of hidden Markov steps preceding each motor switch. Power spectra of time series of switching events exhibited a peaking frequency instead of the Lorentzian profile expected from standard kinetic two-state models. Our analysis indicates that the number of hidden steps may be a key dynamical parameter underlying the switching process in a single bacterial motor as well as in large cooperative molecular systems.