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PLoS Comput Biol. 2010 Feb 26;6(2):e1000686. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000686.

Spatial simulations of myxobacterial development.

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  • 1MOAC Doctoral Training Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom.


Many bacteria exhibit multicellular behaviour, with individuals within a colony coordinating their actions for communal benefit. One example of complex multicellular phenotypes is myxobacterial fruiting body formation, where thousands of cells aggregate into large three-dimensional structures, within which sporulation occurs. Here we describe a novel theoretical model, which uses Monte Carlo dynamics to simulate and explain multicellular development. The model captures multiple behaviours observed during fruiting, including the spontaneous formation of aggregation centres and the formation and dissolution of fruiting bodies. We show that a small number of physical properties in the model is sufficient to explain the most frequently documented population-level behaviours observed during development in Myxococcus xanthus.

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