Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Issue 2, 2020
Previous Article Next Article

Spatiotemporal pattern formation in E. coli biofilms explained by a simple physical energy balance

Author affiliations

Abstract

While the biofilm growth mode conveys notable thriving advantages to bacterial populations, the mechanisms of biofilm formation are still strongly debated. Here, we investigate the remarkable spontaneous formation of regular spatial patterns during the growth of an Escherichia coli biofilm. These patterns reported here appear with non-motile bacteria, which excludes both chemotactic origins and other motility-based ones. We demonstrate that a minimal physical model based on phase separation describes them well. To confirm the predictive capacity of our model, we tune the cell–cell and cell–surface interactions using cells expressing different surface appendages. We further explain how F pilus-bearing cells enroll their wild type kindred, poorly piliated, into their typical pattern when mixed together. This work supports the hypothesis that purely physicochemical processes, such as the interplay of cell–cell and cell–surface interactions, can drive the emergence of a highly organized spatial structure that is potentially decisive for community fate and for biological functions.

Graphical abstract: Spatiotemporal pattern formation in E. coli biofilms explained by a simple physical energy balance

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
08 Jul 2019
Accepted
11 Oct 2019
First published
05 Dec 2019

This article is Open Access

Soft Matter, 2020,16, 494-504
Article type
Paper

Spatiotemporal pattern formation in E. coli biofilms explained by a simple physical energy balance

P. Thomen, J. D. P. Valentin, A. Bitbol and N. Henry, Soft Matter, 2020, 16, 494
DOI: 10.1039/C9SM01375J

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported Licence. Material from this article can be used in other publications provided that the correct acknowledgement is given with the reproduced material and it is not used for commercial purposes.

Reproduced material should be attributed as follows:

  • For reproduction of material from NJC:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the RSC.
  • For reproduction of material from PCCP:
    [Original citation] - Published by the PCCP Owner Societies.
  • For reproduction of material from PPS:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the European Society for Photobiology, the European Photochemistry Association, and RSC.
  • For reproduction of material from all other RSC journals:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Information about reproducing material from RSC articles with different licences is available on our Permission Requests page.


Social activity

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements