COOPERATIVE ORGANIZATION OF BACTERIAL COLONIES: From Genotype to Morphotype

  • Ben-Jacob E
  • Cohen I
  • Gutnick D
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Abstract

In nature, bacteria must often cope with difficult environmental conditions. To do so they have developed sophisticated cooperative behavior and intricate commu-nication pathways. Utilizing these elements, motile microbial colonies frequently develop complex patterns in response to adverse growth conditions on hard sur-faces under conditions of energy limitation. We employ the term morphotype to refer to specific properties of colonial development. The morphologies we discuss include a tip-splitting (T) morphotype, chiral (C) morphotype, and vortex (V) mor-photype. A generic modeling approach was developed by combining a detailed study of the cellular behavior and dynamics during colonial development and invoking concepts derived from the study of pattern formation in nonliving sys-tems. Analysis of patterning behavior of the models suggests bacterial processes whereby communication leads to self-organization by using cooperative cellular interactions. New features emerging from the model include various modes of cell-cell signaling, such as long-range chemorepulsion, short-range chemoattrac-tion, and, in the case of the V morphotype, rotational chemotaxis. In this regard, pattern formation in microorganisms can be viewed as the result of the exchange

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Authors

  • Eshel Ben-Jacob

  • Inon Cohen

  • David L. Gutnick

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