Social bacteria periodically reverse direction to spreadJanuary 21st, 2009 - 12:58 pm ICT by ANI
London, January 21 (ANI): A collaborative study has revealed that groups of highly social bacteria maintain order by periodically reversing direction.
Microbiologist Dale Kaiser of Stanford University in California and Mark Alber at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana say that groups of myxobacteria change direction at regular intervals in search of food, heading back in the direction of the bacterial colony from which they came before returning to their original course.
They highlighted the fact that scientists had for long been puzzled by the very movement, and wondered why the bacteria would waste energy retracing their steps.
They claimed that their team had developed a model showing that without such periodic reversals, swarms of Myxococcus xanthus would become disordered and move at a slower rate, eventually coming to a standstill.
The researchers said that their findings might be helpful in studying traffic flow, in teaching robots to move in groups, or inventing new biological engines.
“Reversing seems like a silly thing to do. It seems like it would get them nowhere. But, in fact, it gets them everywhere,” Nature magazine quoted Kaiser as saying.
The computational model made by the researchers takes into account the behaviour and cell biology of M. xanthus, and it shows that swarms expand at the greatest rate when cells reverse direction roughly every eight minutes, matching the timing observed in the organism.
The researchers said that, over time, the reversals generate a more orderly swarm, with more cells in parallel, making them less likely to bump into one another.
When the researchers allowed the cells in the model to move, but not to reverse direction, they jammed together and became unable to swarm.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the findings suggest that reversing direction gives the bacteria information about their neighbours” locations, and allows the group to maintain formation, even in the absence of information about the swarm as a whole.
Meanwhile, although the group loses some distance each time it turns back, its movement in that direction is impeded as more cells are shed from the colony, and ultimately there is still a net movement outwards.
“Individual cells use a lot of energy for reversals, but still it’’s beneficial for the whole population,” says Alber. (ANI)
- Smart bugs inspire better robotics design - Nov 18, 2011
- Mechanism behind controlled swarm in bacteria discovered - Jun 23, 2010
- How solitary locusts turn maurading bands - Aug 30, 2012
- Marine bacteria digest plastic - Mar 29, 2011
- Predatory bacteria attack in 'military-style' waves - Oct 30, 2008
- Researchers create a living neon sign - Dec 20, 2011
- Lift buttons 40 times filthier than toilet seats - Sep 27, 2010
- Antibiotic resistance spreads rapidly between bacteria: Study - Apr 12, 2011
- How stress in brain increases inflammatory, behavioral responses - May 04, 2011
- Boffins uncover mysterious workings of cholera bacteria - Jul 29, 2010
- Fruit fly nervous system 'could pave way for wireless sensor networks' - Jan 14, 2011
- Why an apple a day keeps the doctor away - Jan 20, 2010
- Scientists discover microbes that survive extreme environment - Jun 10, 2012
- New hope for cardiac attack victims - Dec 05, 2011
- Antibiotic shows promise in silencing resistant bugs - Oct 30, 2011
Tags: bacteria information, cell biology, change direction, collaborative study, computational model, dale kaiser, mark alber, national academy of sciences, nature magazine, neighbours, proceedings of the national academy, proceedings of the national academy of sciences, reversals, silly thing, standstill, stanford university, swarms, traffic flow, university of notre dame, xanthus