Social interactions in Myxobacterial Swarming

Yilin Wu, University of Notre Dame, Leann Lesperance, Binghamton University

From bird flocking to bacterial swarming, the emergent behavior of complex systems consisting of many interacting individuals has long been the interest of various disciplines. Swarming, a collective behavior observed in bacterial colonies, helps bacteria cells expedite their access to nutrients and thus maintain rapid growth of the colony. We choose to study the swarming behavior of myxobacteria. Myxobacteria are commonly found in cultivated soils and have relatively simple individual interactions, providing a test-bed for studying the collective behavior resulting from local interactions. Wild-type myxobacteria have two sets of motility engines and have much higher swarming efficiency than mutants with single motility. Using a cell-based model, we have unveiled how the significant difference in swarming efficiencies between wild-type myxobacteria and mutants arise from the coordination of motility engines at individual- cell level.