Friday, 24 April 2020

Random gene pulsing generates patterns of life


A team of Cambridge scientists working on the intersection between biology and computation has found that random gene activity helps patterns form during development of a model multicellular system.

We all start life as a single cell, which multiplies and develops into specialised cells that carry out different functions. This complex process relies on precise controls along the way, but these new findings suggest random processes also contribute to patterning.

In research, the scientists from James Locke's team at the Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge University and collaborators at Microsoft Research describe their discovery of surprising order in randomness while studying bacterial biofilms.


A biofilm develops when free-living single-celled bacteria attach to a surface and aggregate together to start multiplying and spreading across the surface. These multiplying individual cells mature to form a three-dimensional structure that acts like a multicellular organism.
And while individual cells can survive on their own, these bacteria prefer to work together with biofilms being the dominant form found in nature.

The biofilm consortium provides bacteria with various survival advantages like increased resistance to environmental stresses.

The researchers developed a new time-lapse microscopy technique to track how genetically identical single cells behave as the living biofilm developed.

See:

Eugene Nadezhdin, Niall Murphy, Neil Dalchau, Andrew Phillips, James C. W. Locke. Stochastic pulsing of gene expression enables the generation of spatial patterns in Bacillus subtilis biofilms. Nature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-14431-9

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (http://www.pharmamicroresources.com/)

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