Cell flexibility affects the alignment of model myxobacteria. Janulevicius, A., van Loosdrecht, M.&nbsp;C.<nbsp>M., Simone, A., & Picioreanu, C. Biophysical Journal, 99(10):3129--3138, 2010.
doi  abstract   bibtex   
Myxobacteria are social bacteria that exhibit a complex life cycle culminating in the development of multicellular fruiting bodies. The alignment of rod-shaped myxobacteria cells within populations is crucial for development to proceed. It has been suggested that myxobacteria align due to mechanical interactions between gliding cells and that cell flexibility facilitates reorientation of cells upon mechanical contact. However, these suggestions have not been based on experimental or theoretical evidence. Here we created a computational mass-spring model of a flexible rod-shaped cell that glides on a substratum periodically reversing direction. The model was formulated in terms of experimentally measurable mechanical parameters, such as engine force, bending stiffness, and drag coefficient. We investigated how cell flexibility and motility engine type affected the pattern of cell gliding and the alignment of a population of 500 mechanically interacting cells. It was found that a flexible cell powered by engine force at the rear of the cell, as suggested by the slime extrusion hypothesis for myxobacteria motility engine, would not be able to glide in the direction of its long axis. A population of rigid reversing cells could indeed align due to mechanical interactions between cells, but cell flexibility impaired the alignment.
@article{ Janulevicius:CellFlexibility2010,
  author = {A. Janulevicius and van Loosdrecht, M. C. M. and A. Simone and C. Picioreanu},
  title = {Cell flexibility affects the alignment of model myxobacteria},
  journal = {Biophysical Journal},
  year = {2010},
  volume = {99},
  number = {10},
  pages = {3129--3138},
  kind = {journal paper (ISI)},
  doi = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2010.08.075},
  pdf = {J13 - Cell flexibility affects the alignment of model myxobacteria -- Janulevicius, van Loosdrecht,
		  Simone, Picioreanu - bj - 2010.pdf},
  abstract = {Myxobacteria are social bacteria that exhibit a complex life cycle culminating in the development of
		  multicellular fruiting bodies. The alignment of rod-shaped myxobacteria cells within populations is
		  crucial for development to proceed. It has been suggested that myxobacteria align due to mechanical
		  interactions between gliding cells and that cell flexibility facilitates reorientation of cells upon
		  mechanical contact. However, these suggestions have not been based on experimental or theoretical
		  evidence. Here we created a computational mass-spring model of a flexible rod-shaped cell that glides
		  on a substratum periodically reversing direction. The model was formulated in terms of experimentally
		  measurable mechanical parameters, such as engine force, bending stiffness, and drag coefficient. We
		  investigated how cell flexibility and motility engine type affected the pattern of cell gliding and
		  the alignment of a population of 500 mechanically interacting cells. It was found that a flexible cell
		  powered by engine force at the rear of the cell, as suggested by the slime extrusion hypothesis for
		  myxobacteria motility engine, would not be able to glide in the direction of its long axis. A
		  population of rigid reversing cells could indeed align due to mechanical interactions between cells,
		  but cell flexibility impaired the alignment.}
}
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