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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Electrical signaling enables multiple modes of coordination in B. subtilis biofilms

  • Author(s): Humphries, Jacqueline
  • Advisor(s): Suel, Gurol
  • et al.

The formation of complex multicellular bacterial communities known as biofilms is a process that requires coordination between individual cells. In this work I describe two examples of coordination in B. subtilis biofilms. In the first example, coordination resolves a fundamental trade-off between subpopulations within biofilms. This coordination was shown to be driven by potassium ion-channel mediated electrical signaling. In the second example, electrical signaling enables B. subtilis biofilms to attract motile cells from their surroundings in a species-independent manner. Attraction results in the incorporation of new members into the pre-existing community and can give rise to mixed-species communities. These new examples of coordination in biofilms underscore the complexity of biofilm formation and provide a basis for future research.

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