Send to

Choose Destination
Nature. 1995 Jul 6;376(6535):49-53.

Dynamics of formation of symmetrical patterns by chemotactic bacteria.

Author information

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


Motile cells of Escherichia coli aggregate to form stable patterns of remarkable regularity when grown from a single point on certain substrates. Central to this self-organization is chemotaxis, the motion of bacteria along gradients of a chemical attractant that the cells themselves excrete. Here we show how these complex patterns develop. The long-range spatial order arises from interactions between two multicellular aggregate structures: a 'swarm ring' that expands radially, and focal aggregates that have lower mobility. Patterning occurs through alternating domination by these two sources of excreted attractant (which we identify here as aspartate). The pattern geometries vary in a systematic way, depending on how long an aggregate remains active; this depends, in turn, on the initial concentration of substrate (here, succinate).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center