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Cell morphology drives spatial patterning in microbial communities

Smith, William P.J. and Davit, Yohan and Osborne, James M. and Kim, Wook and Foster, Kevin R. and Pitt-Francis, Joe M. Cell morphology drives spatial patterning in microbial communities. (2016) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114 (3). E280-E286. ISSN 1091-6490

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1613007114

Abstract

The clearest phenotypic characteristic of microbial cells is their shape, but we do not understand how cell shape affects the dense communities, known as biofilms, where many microbes live. Here, we use individual-based modeling to systematically vary cell shape and study its impact in simulated communities. We compete cells with different cell morphologies under a range of conditions and ask how shape affects the patterning and evolutionary fitness of cells within a community. Our models predict that cell shape will strongly influence the fate of a cell lineage: we describe a mechanism through which coccal (round) cells rise to the upper surface of a community, leading to a strong spatial structuring that can be critical for fitness. We test our predictions experimentally using strains of Escherichia coli that grow at a similar rate but differ in cell shape due to single amino acid changes in the actin homolog MreB. As predicted by our model, cell types strongly sort by shape, with round cells at the top of the colony and rod cells dominating the basal surface and edges. Our work suggests that cell morphology has a strong impact within microbial communities and may offer new ways to engineer the structure of synthetic communities.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Thanks to National Academy of Sciences. The definitive version is available at http://www.pnas.org/ The original PDF of the article can be found at http://www.pnas.org/content/114/3/E280.full
Audience (journal):International peer-reviewed journal
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Institution:French research institutions > Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - CNRS (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse - Toulouse INP (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier - UT3 (FRANCE)
Other partners > University of Melbourne (AUSTRALIA)
Other partners > University of Oxford (UNITED KINGDOM)
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Deposited On:06 Oct 2017 15:06

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