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Trainee, associate study elasticotaxis in Myxococcus xanthus

Trainee Achievements

Trainee, associate study elasticotaxis in Myxococcus xanthus

Biology Trainee David Lemon and Physics Associate Xingbo Yang have teamed-up to study elasticotaxis in Myxococcus xanthus. Early experiments have shown that mechanical deformations in the substrate affect M. xanthus swarming, but no quantitative measurements or theoretical explanation are yet available. David carried out preliminary experiments during a rotation in the lab of Anthony Garza and presented his ideas at our IGERT student seminar. Xingbo, who was working with Cristina Marchetti on pattern formation in bacterial suspension, realized he could adapt continuum models of active elastic media to this problem. The two students have now started to work together under the guidance of their advisors to test the hypothesis that elasticotaxis helps bacteria locate nutrient sources: large food particles create stress lines in the biofilm and movements along the stress lines guides the cells to the nutrient sources. This nascent collaborative project was stimulated by the IGERT program.