Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Nature. 2015 Jul 30;523(7562):550-4. doi: 10.1038/nature14660. Epub 2015 Jul 22.

Metabolic co-dependence gives rise to collective oscillations within biofilms.

Author information

1
Division of Biological Sciences, University of California San Diego, California 92093, USA.
2
Department of Experimental and Health Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 08003 Barcelona, Spain.
3
Warwick Integrative Synthetic Biology Centre, School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK.

Abstract

Cells that reside within a community can cooperate and also compete with each other for resources. It remains unclear how these opposing interactions are resolved at the population level. Here we investigate such an internal conflict within a microbial (Bacillus subtilis) biofilm community: cells in the biofilm periphery not only protect interior cells from external attack but also starve them through nutrient consumption. We discover that this conflict between protection and starvation is resolved through emergence of long-range metabolic co-dependence between peripheral and interior cells. As a result, biofilm growth halts periodically, increasing nutrient availability for the sheltered interior cells. We show that this collective oscillation in biofilm growth benefits the community in the event of a chemical attack. These findings indicate that oscillations support population-level conflict resolution by coordinating competing metabolic demands in space and time, suggesting new strategies to control biofilm growth.

Comment in

PMID:
26200335
PMCID:
PMC4862617
DOI:
10.1038/nature14660
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center