Adjustment in tumbling rates improves bacterial chemotaxis on obstacle-laden terrains

Sabrina Rashid, Zhicheng Long, Shashank Singh, Maryam Kohram, Harsh Vashistha, Saket Navlakha, Hanna Salman, Zoltán N. Oltvai, Ziv Bar-Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The mechanisms of bacterial chemotaxis have been extensively studied for several decades, but how the physical environment influences the collective migration of bacterial cells remains less understood. Previous models of bacterial chemotaxis have suggested that the movement of migrating bacteria across obstacle-laden terrains may be slower compared with terrains without them. Here, we show experimentally that the size or density of evenly spaced obstacles do not alter the average exit rate of Escherichia coli cells from microchambers in response to external attractants, a function that is dependent on intact cell–cell communication. We also show, both by analyzing a revised theoretical model and by experimentally following single cells, that the reduced exit time in the presence of obstacles is a consequence of reduced tumbling frequency that is adjusted by the E. coli cells in response to the topology of their environment. These findings imply operational short-term memory of bacteria while moving through complex environments in response to chemotactic stimuli and motivate improved algorithms for self-autonomous robotic swarms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11770-11775
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume116
Issue number24
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 11 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this work was provided in part by NSF Grant DBI-1356505 to Z.B.-J. and Z.N.O., NSF Grant PHY-1401576 to H.S., and a grant from the McDonnell Foundation program on Studying Complex Systems to Z.B.-J.

Funding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. Funding for this work was provided in part by NSF Grant DBI-1356505 to Z.B.-J. and Z.N.O., NSF Grant PHY-1401576 to H.S., and a grant from the McDonnell Foundation program on Studying Complex Systems to Z.B.-J.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Bacteria
  • Chemotaxis
  • Tumbling

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