“High-throughput 3D tracking enables multiscale analysis of bacterial motility behavior”
This event is part of the Biophysics Seminars. 12:30PM.
Many bacteria move by rotating helical appendages called flagella, but species differ widely in the number, position and shape of these flagella. The natural habitats of motile bacteria are similarly diverse, ranging from aqueous solutions such as oceans and lakes to complex environments such as mucus or soil. What motility behaviors are enabled by different flagellar architectures? Which behaviors are advantageous in which environments? Our lab strives to learn how physics and ecology interplay in shaping the natural selection of bacterial motility strategies.
We are exploiting a recently developed high-throughput 3D tracking method that facilitates the rapid and label-free behavioral phenotyping of large bacterial populations to understand how flagellar architecture, exemplified by select species and mutants, affects motility behavior and chemotaxis in different environments, on scales from individuals to populations. By combining 3D tracking with microfluidically generated gradients, we can directly determine chemotactic drift velocities in different types of environments, such as hydrogels, while simultaneously resolving motility patterns and their modification in response to the gradient. The combination of substantial statistical power for precisely discerning population averages of traits with simultaneous knowledge of each individual’s behavior enables a multiscale analysis connecting the two levels and provides unprecedented access to a mechanistic understanding of diverse chemotactic mechanisms.