Predatory Bacterial Crowdsourcing
Move forward. High-five your neighbor. Turn around. Repeat. That’s the winning formula of one of the world’s smallest predators, the soil bacteria Myxococcus xanthus, and a new study by scientists at Rice University and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School shows how Myxococcus xanthus uses the formula to spread, engulf and devour other bacteria.
The study, featured on the cover of this month’s online issue of the journal PLOS Computational Biology, shows how the simple motions of individual bacteria are amplified within colonies of Myxococcus xanthus to form millions-strong waves moving outward in unison. The findings answer longstanding questions about how the waves form and the competitive edge they provide Myxococcus xanthus.