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Review
, 12 (2), 115-24

Bacterial Solutions to Multicellularity: A Tale of Biofilms, Filaments and Fruiting Bodies

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Review

Bacterial Solutions to Multicellularity: A Tale of Biofilms, Filaments and Fruiting Bodies

Dennis Claessen et al. Nat Rev Microbiol.

Abstract

Although bacteria frequently live as unicellular organisms, many spend at least part of their lives in complex communities, and some have adopted truly multicellular lifestyles and have abandoned unicellular growth. These transitions to multicellularity have occurred independently several times for various ecological reasons, resulting in a broad range of phenotypes. In this Review, we discuss the strategies that are used by bacteria to form and grow in multicellular structures that have hallmark features of multicellularity, including morphological differentiation, programmed cell death and patterning. In addition, we examine the evolutionary and ecological factors that lead to the wide range of coordinated multicellular behaviours that are observed in bacteria.

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