Mechanical instability and interfacial energy drive biofilm morphogenesis.

TitleMechanical instability and interfacial energy drive biofilm morphogenesis.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsYan, J, Fei, C, Mao, S, Moreau, A, Wingreen, NS, Košmrlj, A, Stone, HA, Bassler, BL
Date Published2019 Mar 08

Surface-attached bacterial communities called biofilms display a diversity of morphologies. Although structural and regulatory components required for biofilm formation are known, it is not understood how these essential constituents promote biofilm surface morphology. Here, using Vibrio cholerae as our model system, we combine mechanical measurements, theory and simulation, quantitative image analyses, surface energy characterizations, and mutagenesis to show that mechanical instabilities, including wrinkling and delamination, underlie the morphogenesis program of growing biofilms. We also identify interfacial energy as a key driving force for mechanomorphogenesis because it dictates the generation/annihilation of new/existing interfaces. Finally, we discover feedback between mechanomorphogenesis and biofilm expansion, which shapes the overall biofilm contour. The morphogenesis principles we discover in bacterial biofilms, relying on mechanical instabilities and interfacial energies, should be generally applicable to morphogenesis processes in tissues in higher organisms.

Alternate JournalElife
PubMed ID30848725
Grant ListDMR-1420541 / / National Science Foundation /