Formation of complex bacterial colonies via self-generated vortices

András Czirók, Eshel Ben-Jacob, Inon Cohen, Tamás Vicsek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

172 Citations (Scopus)


Depending on the environmental conditions bacterial colonies growing on agar surfaces can exhibit complex colony formation and various types of collective motion. Experimental results are presented concerning the hydrodynamics (vortices, migration of bacteria in clusters) and colony formation of a morphotype of Bacillus subtilis. Some of these features are not specific to this morphotype but also have been observed in several other bacterial strains, suggesting the presence of universal effects. A simple model of self-propelled particles is proposed, which is capable of describing the hydrodynamics on the intermediate level, including the experimentally observed rotating disks of bacteria. The colony formation is captured by a complex generic model taking into account nutrient diffusion, reproduction, and sporulation of bacteria, extracellular slime deposition, chemoregulation, and inhomogeneous population. Our model also sheds light on some possible biological benefits of this “multicellular behavior.”

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1791-1801
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical Physics, Plasmas, Fluids, and Related Interdisciplinary Topics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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