Plastic multicellular development of Myxococcus xanthus: Genotype-environment interactions in a physical gradient

Natsuko Rivera-Yoshida, Alejandro V. Arzola, Juan A.Arias Del Angel, Alessio Franci, Michael Travisano, Ana E. Escalante, Mariana Benítez

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7 Scopus citations


In order to investigate the contribution of the physical environment to variation in multicellular development of Myxococcus xanthus, phenotypes developed by different genotypes in a gradient of substrate stiffness conditions were quantitatively characterized. Statistical analysis showed that plastic phenotypes result from the genotype, the substrate conditions and the interaction between them. Also, phenotypes were expressed in two distinguishable scales, the individual and the population levels, and the interaction with the environment showed scale and trait specificity. Overall, our results highlight the constructive role of the physical context in the development of microbial multicellularity, with both ecological and evolutionary implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number181730
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Competing interests. We have no competing interests. Funding. This study is funded by CONACYT (221341), DGAPA-PAPIIT-UNAM (RA105518) and PAPIIT-UNAM (IN111919). Acknowledgements. N.R.-Y. is a doctoral student from Programa de Doctorado en Ciencias Biomédicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and received fellowship 580236 from CONACYT. Authors thank Marcelo Navarro-Díaz, Karen Carrasco-Espinosa, Alejandra Hernández-Terán, José Antonio Olivares Segura, Jorge Hernández-Cobos, Emilio Mora Van Cauwelaert and members of LANCIS for their support and valuable feedback. We also thank the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS) for its support during the program Living Matter (Code: ICTS/Prog-LivingMatter2018/04), at the ICTS. Authors thank two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments and suggestions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors.


  • Multicellularity
  • Myxococcus xanthus
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Physical forces in development
  • Reaction norm


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