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Sci Prog. 1991;75(298 Pt 3-4):403-22.

Bacterial swarming: an example of prokaryotic differentiation and multicellular behaviour.

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Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge.


Bacterial swarming involves the differentiation of vegetative cells into hyperflagellated swarm cells which undergo cycles of rapid and coordinated population migration across solid surfaces. Species capable of this simple form of developmental behaviour lie on the boundary between unicellular and multicellular organisms and provide processes for study which are not only of intrinsic interest but which are analogous to components of more complex eukaryotic systems. This review attempts to place current knowledge of bacterial swarming within the framework provided by more extensively studied forms of prokaryotic multicellular behaviour. It discusses the potential of swarming as a readily accessible model of differentiation and multicellular behaviour and describes evidence indicating that swarming differentiation plays an important role in bacterial virulence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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