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The interactions are precise because, for example, the structure of the fruiting bodies of each species are sufficiently consistent to serve as taxonomic characters Fig.

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Despite the apparent complexity of their feeding, swarming, and fruiting behavior, myxobacterial cells have the structural and chemical simplicity of gram-negative bacteria. They can be grown in large cultures of uniform cell type. Their genome consists of kilobase pairs of DNA 8. The methods of recombinant DNA and transposon genetics have been applied to myxobacteria.


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As consequences of their simple cellular structure, relatively small genome, and the facility with which genetics can be applied to them, it may be possible to define in molecular terms how these cells interact with each other. Before reviewing what is known of their cell interactions, we briefly summarize their multicellular development and related aspects of their biology.

Development and Cell Interactions

A general review on myxobacteria is now available 9. Myxobacteria live in the soil where they feed on insoluble macromolecules. They degrade protein, microbial cell walls, cellulose, and other polymers with secreted and cell-bound hydrolytic enzymes. The efficiency of feeding on a polymeric substrate, like the protein casein, more than doubles Cell interactions in myxobacterial growth and development. Authors: Martin Dworkin and Dale Kaiser.


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Date: Oct. From: Science Vol. Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Myxobacteria: cell interactions, genetics, and development.

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  • Sign up for new issue notifications. Cell contact, movement and directionality are important factors in biological development morphogenesis , and myxobacteria are a model system for studying cell—cell interaction and cell organization preceding differentiation. When starved, thousands of myxobacteria cells align, stream and form aggregates which later develop into round, non-motile spores.

    Myxobacteria, life cycle, genetic basis of differentiation

    Canonically, cell aggregation has been attributed to attractive chemotaxis, a long range interaction, but there is growing evidence that myxobacteria organization depends on contact-mediated cell—cell communication. We present a discrete stochastic model based on contact-mediated signaling that suggests an explanation for the initialization of early aggregates, aggregation dynamics and final aggregate distribution.

    Our model qualitatively reproduces the unique structures of myxobacteria aggregates and detailed stages which occur during myxobacteria aggregation: first, aggregates initialize in random positions and cells join aggregates by random walk; second, cells redistribute by moving within transient streams connecting aggregates. Streams play a critical role in final aggregate size distribution by redistributing cells among fewer, larger aggregates.

    The mechanism by which streams redistribute cells depends on aggregate sizes and is enhanced by noise. Our model predicts that with increased internal noise, more streams would form and streams would last longer.