Large-scale orientational order in bacterial colonies during inward growth

12 Aug 2020  ·  Mustafa Başaran, Y. Ilker Yaman, Tevfik Can Yuce, Roman Vetter, Askin Kocabas ·

During colony growth, complex interactions regulate the bacterial orientation, leading to the formation of large-scale ordered structures, including topological defects and microdomains. These structures may benefit bacterial strains, providing invasive advantages during colonization. Active matter dynamics of growing colonies drives the emergence of these ordered structures. However, additional biomechanical factors also play a significant role during this process. Here we show that the velocity profile of growing colonies creates strong radial orientation during inward growth when crowded populations invade a closed area. During this process, growth geometry sets virtual confinement and dictates the velocity profile. Herein, flow-induced alignment and torque balance on the rod-shaped bacteria significantly differed, resulting in new stable orientational equilibrium in the radial direction. Our analysis revealed that the dynamics of these orientational defects depend on bacterial length and can promote the survival of the longest bacteria around localized nutritional hot spots. The present results indicate a new mechanism underlying structural order and provide mechanistic insights into the dynamics of bacterial growth on complex surfaces.

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Biological Physics Soft Condensed Matter