From Cell Differentiation to Cell Collectives: <i>Bacillus subtilis</i> Uses Division of Labor to Migrate

Condensed Matter journal club

From Cell Differentiation to Cell Collectives: <i>Bacillus subtilis</i> Uses Division of Labor to Migrate

  • Event time: 11:30am
  • Event date: 22nd May 2015
  • Speaker: Dario Dell'Arciprete (Formerly School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh)
  • Location: Room 2511,

Event details


The organization of cells, emerging from cell-cell interactions, can give rise to collective properties. These properties are adaptive when together cells can face environmental challenges that they separately cannot. One particular challenge that is important for microorganisms is migration. In this study, we show how flagellum-independent migration is driven by the division of labor of two cell types that appear during Bacillus subtilis sliding motility. Cell collectives organize themselves into bundles (called "van Gogh bundles" of tightly aligned cell chains that form filamentous loops at the colony edge. We show, by time-course microscopy, that these loops migrate by pushing themselves away from the colony. The formation of van Gogh bundles depends critically on the synergistic interaction of surfactin-producing and matrix-producing cells. We propose that surfactin-producing cells reduce the friction between cells and their substrate, thereby facilitating matrix-producing cells to form bundles. The folding properties of these bundles determine the rate of colony expansion. Our study illustrates how the simple organization of cells within a community can yield a strong ecological advantage. This is a key factor underlying the diverse origins of multicellularity.
PLoS Biology 13 article e1002141 (2015)
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Jordi van Gestel, Hera Vlamakis, Roberto Kolter

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Given the diversity of research in the CM group, chosen topics vary widely. We tend to stick to high-impact journals - Nature, Science, PNAS and PRL have been popular - but this is not prescriptive..

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