Fall 2023 Physics Colloquium: Uncovering the mechanisms of pattern formation and emergent collective behaviors in myxobacteria

Oleg Igoshin, Professor of Bioengineering & BioSciences Associate Chair of Bioengineering, Rice University


3 to 4 p.m., Dec. 1, 2023


Abstract: Collective cell movement is critical to the emergent properties of many multicellular systems, including microbial self-organization in biofilms, wound healing, and cancer metastasis. However, even the best-studied systems lack a complete picture of how diverse physical and chemical cues act upon individual cells to ensure coordinated multicellular behavior. Myxococcus xanthus is a model bacteria famous for its coordinated multicellular behavior resulting in dynamic pattern formation. For example, when starving, millions of cells coordinate their movement to organize into fruiting bodies – aggregates containing tens of thousands of bacteria. Relating these complex self-organization patterns to the behavior of individual cells is a complex reverse-engineering problem that cannot be solved solely by experimental research. We uncover the mechanisms of emergent collective behaviors with a combination of active matter physics, agent-based modeling, and kinetic theory PDEs and, in collaboration with experimentalists, quantitative microscopy, and image processing.

In-person only. Refreshments at 2:30pm, PAS 218