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Phys Rev Lett. 2015 Jan 9;114(1):018105. Epub 2015 Jan 6.

Antibiotic-induced anomalous statistics of collective bacterial swarming.

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Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer Campus 84990, Midreshet Ben-Gurion, Israel.
School of Physics and Astronomy, Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel and Center for Theoretical Biological Physics, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77025, USA.
Department of Mathematics, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan 52000, Israel.


Under sublethal antibiotics concentrations, the statistics of collectively swarming Bacillus subtilis transitions from normal to anomalous, with a heavy-tailed speed distribution and a two-step temporal correlation of velocities. The transition is due to changes in the properties of the bacterial motion and the formation of a motility-defective subpopulation that self-segregates into regions. As a result, both the colonial expansion and the growth rate are not affected by antibiotics. This phenomenon suggests a new strategy bacteria employ to fight antibiotic stress.

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