Morphological optimization for access to dual oxidants in biofilms
Author(s)Kempes, Chris Poling; Okegbe, Chinweike; Mears-Clarke, Zwoisaint; Dietrich, Lars E. P.; Follows, Michael J.
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A major theme driving research in biology is the relationship between form and function. In particular, a longstanding goal has been to understand how the evolution of multicellularity conferred fitness advantages. Here we show that biofilms of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa produce structures that maximize cellular reproduction. Specifically, we develop a mathematical model of resource availability and metabolic response within colony features. This analysis accurately predicts the measured distribution of two types of electron acceptors: oxygen, which is available from the atmosphere, and phenazines, redox-active antibiotics produced by the bacterium. Using this model, we demonstrate that the geometry of colony structures is optimal with respect to growth efficiency. Because our model is based on resource dynamics, we also can anticipate shifts in feature geometry based on changes to the availability of electron acceptors, including variations in the external availability of oxygen and genetic manipulation that renders the cells incapable of phenazine production.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
Kempes, C. P., C. Okegbe, Z. Mears-Clarke, M. J. Follows, and L. E. P. Dietrich. “Morphological Optimization for Access to Dual Oxidants in Biofilms.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111, no. 1 (December 12, 2013): 208–213.
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