Researchers at Indiana University and Brown University used video microscopy to figure this out. First, the bacterium uses its flagellum as a propulsion device to move around in the water. Then it sheds this stringy apparatus and grows a thicker holdfast on the same end, preparing to latch on to a surface. Upon connecting with a surface, the holdfast stops wriggling, with help from nearby structures called pili, according to the National Science Foundation. The freeze in motion signals the production of the bacterium's super-powerful adhesive, affixing the organism to its surface.