Self-engineering capabilities of bacterial colonies

Herbert Levine
University of California, San Diego

natural growth conditions, bacteria can utilize intricate
communication capabilities (e.g. quorum-sensing, chemotactic
signalling and plasmid exchange) to cooperatively form (self-organize)
complex colonies with elevated adaptability—the colonial pattern is
collectively engineered according to the encountered environmental
conditions. Bacteria do not genetically store all the information
required for creating all possible patterns. Instead, additional
information is cooperatively generated as required for the colonial
self-organization to proceed. This is possible because each bacterium
is, by itself, a biotic autonomous system with its own internal
cellular informatics capabilities (storage, processing and assessment
of information). These afford the cell plasticity to select its
response to biochemical messages it receives, including
self-alteration and the broadcasting of messages to initiate
alterations in other bacteria.
In this talk, I
describe some of complex colonial
forms (patterns) that emerge through the communication-based singular
interplay between individual bacteria and the colony and how these can
be elucidated by a series of mathematical models.

Presentation (PowerPoint File)

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