Tue, 09/06/2015 - 14:15
Campus Saarbrücken, Geb. E2 6, Raum E.04

Dr. Vasily Zaburdaev
Host: Prof. Dr. Dr. Karsten Kruse
Max-Planck-Institut für Physik komplexer Systeme, Dresden

N. gonorrhoeae bacteria: from single cells to merging colonies

Gonorrhea is the second most common sexually transmitted disease in humans. It is caused by the Gram-negative Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria which colonize human epithelia. N. gonorrhoeae use long and thin retractable filaments, called type IV pili, to move on various surfaces. In this talk, I will try to show that pili are essential for the ability of bacteria to move, find each other and form microcolonies. Starting from a pili-pili handshake cells can establish a link, pull together, and aggregate. Large colonies comprising several hundreds of cells are also motile and can merge in a way which might appear similar to the liquid drops coalescence. We analyzed the process of colony merging in more detail experimentally and by using computer simulations, which revealed a very interesting dynamics with two distinct time scales. We could attribute these time scales to phenotypic changes developing in the colony as a result of forces generated by pili-pili interactions. In our quest for biophysical mechanisms responsible for cell motility and driving the agglomeration of large bacterial colonies we hope to provide new ways of how to control the infection caused by N. gonorrhoeae.

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