Waves and aggregation patterns in myxobacteria

Oleg A. Igoshin, Roy Welch, Dale Kaiser, George Oster

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Under starvation conditions, a population of myxobacteria aggregates to build a fruiting body whose shape is species-specific and within which the cells sporulate. Early in this process, cells often pass through a "ripple phase" characterized by traveling linear, concentric, and spiral waves. These waves are different from the waves observed during slime mold aggregation that depend on diffusible morphogens, because myxobacteria communicate by direct contact. The difference is most dramatic when waves collide: rather than annihilating one another, myxobacterial waves appear to pass through one another unchanged. Under certain conditions, the spacing and location of the nascent fruiting bodies is determined by the wavelength and pattern of the waves. Later in fruiting body development, waves are replaced by streams of cells that circulate around small initial aggregates enlarging and rounding them. Still later, pairs of motile aggregates coalesce to form larger aggregates that develop into fruiting bodies. Here we present a mathematical model that quantitatively explains these wave and aggregation phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4256-4261
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 23 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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