Biofilm Dynamics and interactions with flow
What determines the biofilm architecture, and how do cells decide when they should disperse from biofilms? We recently developed novel imaging techniques that allow us to track all individual cells in biofilms, revealing beautiful internal cellular arrangements, and the different stages of biofilm growth. Drescher, et al. 2016]
We are now using these (and improved) imaging techniques to identify key cell-cell interactions in biofilms that determine the multicellular community growth [Hartmann, et al. 2019]. Based on this single-cell imaging, we also revealed how biofilms interact with fluid flow [Pearce, et al. 2019] and how biofilms respond to antibiotics [Diaz-Pascual, et al. 2019].
Cells need not stay in a biofilm forever. Yet it is unclear how cells reach a decision for when they should decide to disperse. We recently discovered that cells monitor a self-secreted quorum sensing signal, and the local nutrient concentration, to reach robust decisions about dispersal as a collective. [Singh, et al. 2017]
How do biofilms grow in realistic physical and chemical environments? Biofilms are often thought to occur as surface-attached films. However, in environmental conditions that mimic their natural habitats, biofilms of P. aeruginosa and S. aureus are deformed into string-like structures. We discovered that these structures have a mesh-like architecture that captures other cells that are flowing past to grow explosively fast and cause rapid clogging of various industrial, environmental, and medical flow systems.
[Pearce, et al. 2019; Drescher, et al. 2013; Kim, et al. 2014]