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Special Biological Physics (CPLC) Seminar: "Emergent dynamics in bacterial communities"

Event Type
Seminar/Symposium
Sponsor
CPLC
Location
276 Loomis
Date
Feb 20, 2017   11:00 am  
Speaker
Jintao Liu, Division of Biological Physics, University of California, San Diego
Contact
Marjorie Gamel
E-Mail
mgamel@illinois.edu
Phone
217-333-3762
Views
46
Originating Calendar
Physics - Physics of Living Cells Seminar

Bacteria often live in a type of communities call biofilms, where they can cooperate and also compete with each other for resources. For example, cells at biofilm periphery protect interior cells from external attack, but also starve them through nutrient consumption. It remains unclear how these opposing interactions are resolved at the population level. To investigate this question, I developed a new microfluidic technique to culture Bacillus subtilis biofilms. Using this technique, I discovered that the conflict between protection and starvation is resolved through the emergence of long-range metabolic co-dependence between biofilm periphery and interior. As a result, biofilm growth halts periodically, increasing nutrient availability for the sheltered interior cells, benefiting the community in the event of chemical attack. I will further demonstrate a function for ion channels in this process. Specifically, ion channels conduct long-range electrical signals within biofilms through spatially propagating waves of potassium, which facilitates the coordination of metabolic states among cells. These findings indicate that bacterial communities can coordinate their dynamics to resolve competing demands in space and time, suggesting new strategies for biofilm control.

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