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Pili mediated intercellular forces shape heterogeneous bacterial microcolonies prior to multicellular differentiation

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Zaburdaev,  Vasily
Max-Planck-Zentrum für Physik und Medizin, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Max Planck Society;
Department of Biology, Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg;

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Citation

Poenisch, W., Eckenrode, K. B., Alzurqa, K., Nasrollahi, H., Weber, C., Zaburdaev, V., et al. (2018). Pili mediated intercellular forces shape heterogeneous bacterial microcolonies prior to multicellular differentiation. Scientific Reports, 8: 16567. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-34754-4.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-BC6C-E
Abstract
Microcolonies are aggregates of a few dozen to a few thousand cells exhibited by many bacteria. The formation of microcolonies is a crucial step towards the formation of more mature bacterial communities known as biofilms, but also marks a significant change in bacterial physiology. Within a microcolony, bacteria forgo a single cell lifestyle for a communal lifestyle hallmarked by high cell density and physical interactions between cells potentially altering their behaviour. It is thus crucial to understand how initially identical single cells start to behave differently while assembling in these tight communities. Here we show that cells in the microcolonies formed by the human pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Ng) present differential motility behaviors within an hour upon colony formation. Observation of merging microcolonies and tracking of single cells within microcolonies reveal a heterogeneous motility behavior: cells close to the surface of the microcolony exhibit a much higher motility compared to cells towards the center. Numerical simulations of a biophysical model for the microcolonies at the single cell level suggest that the emergence of differential behavior within a multicellular microcolony of otherwise identical cells is of mechanical origin. It could suggest a route toward further bacterial differentiation and ultimately mature biofilms.