Bulletin of the American Physical Society
APS March Meeting 2018
Monday–Friday, March 5–9, 2018; Los Angeles, California
Session P49: Evolutionary and Ecological Dynamics - III
2:30 PM–5:30 PM,
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
LACC Room: 511A
Sponsoring Units: DBIO GSNP
Chair: Kirill Korolev, Boston University
Abstract: P49.00001 : Ecological feedback in quorum-sensing microbial populations*
2:30 PM–3:06 PM
View Presentation Abstract
Bacteria and other microbes can communicate with each other using chemical languages. They release small signaling molecules called autoinducers into their surroundings and sense the levels of the autoinducers in the environment. The response to these autoinducers – known as quorum sensing – can regulate how whole communities of microbes grow and behave; for example, autoinducers can alter the ability of microbes to infect humans or enable the microbes to collectively switch on light production. Recent experiments suggest that, in a population of genetically identical microbes, some individuals may produce autoinducers while others do not. The coexistence of these different phenotypes in one population may enable different individuals to perform different roles, or act as a bet-hedging strategy that helps the population to survive if it is later exposed to a stressful situation. It is not clear how microbes regulate autoinducer production so that only some individuals produce these molecules. In this talk a theoretical model will be presented that addresses this question. In the model, the microbes shape their environment by producing autoinducers and can respond to this self-shaped environment by changing their level of autoinducer production. The coupling between ecological and population dynamics through quorum sensing can induce phenotypic heterogeneity in microbial populations, suggesting an alternative mechanism to stochastic gene expression in bistable gene regulatory circuits.
*Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SPP1617 through grant FR850/11-1, 2). German Excellence Initiative (Nanosystems Initiative Munich).
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