Toward realistic modeling of multilayered bacterial colonies

Mateeb T. Khan*, Ian Camman, Emiliano Renzi, Marco Mazza

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Bacteria are prolific at colonizing diverse surfaces under a wide-range of environmental conditions. They exhibit fascinating examples of self-organization across scales. Though studied for long, the role of mechanical forces in the collective behavior of bacterial colonies is not yet fully understood. Here, we construct a model of growing rod-like bacteria, such as Escherichia coli based purely on mechanical forces. We perform overdamped molecular dynamics simulations of the colony starting from few cells in contact with a surface. As the colony grows, microdomains of strongly aligned cells grow and proliferate. Our model captures both the initial growth of a bacterial colony and also shows promising signs of capturing the experimentally observed transition to multilayered colonies over longer timescales. We compare our results with experiments on E. coli cells and analyze the statistics of microdomains.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCondensed Matter Physics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Feb 2024

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