Research NewsMicrobiology

Physics, Biology Meet in Self-Assembling Bacterial Fibers

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Science  06 Jun 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5318, pp. 1499-1500
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5318.1499

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A mutant form of a common, rod-shaped bacterium, Bacillus subtilis, which twists itself into ropy helical fibers, has been making a name for itself in some unexpected settings, far from microbiology. It has won devotees among mathematicians, engineers, and physicists who, collaborating with University of Arizona microbiologist Neil Mendelson, have used the microbial fibers to help solve long-standing problems in elasticity theory, model solar flares, and make a new siliceous material that could be used in medical implants.

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