Bacteria display a remarkable capacity to organize themselves in space and time within biofilms. Traditionally, the spatial organization of biofilms has been dissected vertically; however, biofilms can exhibit complex, temporally structured, two-dimensional radial patterns while spreading on a surface. Kahl and colleagues report a ring pattern that indicates the alternating redox metabolism of P. aeruginosa biofilms under light/dark cycles. Does the presence of a rhythmic, daily phenotype imply a circadian rhythm? Here, we highlight several examples of rhythmic patterns reported in the literature for surface-colonizing multicellular assemblies and discuss the conceptual requirements for proving the presence of a prokaryotic circadian clock behind pattern formation.
Keywords: bacteria; circadian rhythm; colony; pattern; spatial organisation.