Cooperative organization of bacterial colonies: from genotype to morphotype

Annu Rev Microbiol. 1998;52:779-806. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.52.1.779.

Abstract

In nature, bacteria must often cope with difficult environmental conditions. To do so they have developed sophisticated cooperative behavior and intricate communication pathways. Utilizing these elements, motile microbial colonies frequently develop complex patterns in response to adverse growth conditions on hard surfaces under conditions of energy limitation. We employ the term morphotype to refer to specific properties of colonial development. The morphologies we discuss include a tip-splitting (T) morphotype, chiral (C) morphotype, and vortex (V) morphotype. A generic modeling approach was developed by combining a detailed study of the cellular behavior and dynamics during colonial development and invoking concepts derived from the study of pattern formation in nonliving systems. Analysis of patterning behavior of the models suggests bacterial processes whereby communication leads to self-organization by using cooperative cellular interactions. New features emerging from the model include various models of cell-cell signaling, such as long-range chemorepulsion, short-range chemoattraction, and, in the case of the V morphotype, rotational chemotaxis. In this regard, pattern formation in microorganisms can be viewed as the result of the exchange of information between the micro-level (the individual cells) and the macro-level (the colony).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Chemotaxis / physiology
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Culture Media / chemistry
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Morphogenesis
  • Myxococcus xanthus / growth & development
  • Salmonella typhimurium / growth & development

Substances

  • Culture Media