Microbiology

Cooperation causes van Gogh to appear

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Science  29 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6238, pp. 986-987
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6238.986-f

Cell-cell interactions underlie many fundamental aspects of biology, even when those cells are normally considered autonomous, such as bacteria. Van Gestel et al. studied how Bacillus subtilis cooperate to allow a colony to move en bloc across a surface. The cells bundled themselves into so-called van Gogh bundles consisting of regimented rows of cells that generate looping strands at the outer edge of the colony. These loops then push themselves away, allowing the bacteria to move to pastures new. Two distinct types of cell are needed to form the bundles, one to form a sort of intercellular glue and the other to form a slippery track.

B. subtilis divides the labor between two cell types (in red and green) to move across a solid surface

CREDIT: J. VAN GESTEL ET AL., PLOS BIOL. (20 APRIL 2015)

PLOS Biol. 10.1371/journal. pbio.1002141 (2015).

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