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Dynamic Aspects of the Structured Cell Population in a Swarming Colony of Proteus mirabilis

  • Tohey Matsuyama
  • Yuko Takagi
  • Yoji Nakagawa
  • Hiroto Itoh
  • Junichi Wakita
  • Mitsugu Matsushita
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2000
  • Medicine


Proteus mirabilis forms a concentric-ring colony by undergoing periodic swarming. A colony in the process of such synchronized expansion was examined for its internal population structure. In alternating phases, i.e., swarming (active migration) and consolidation (growth without colony perimeter expansion), phase-specific distribution of cells differing in length, in situ mobility, and migration ability on an agar medium were recognized. In the consolidation phase, the distribution of mobile cells was restricted to the inner part of a new ring and a previous terrace. Cells composing the outer part of the ring were immobile in spite of their ordinary swimming ability in a viscous solution. A sectorial cell population having such an internal structure was replica printed on fresh agar medium. After printing, a transplant which was in the swarming phase continued its ongoing swarming while a transplanted consolidation front continued its scheduled consolidation. This shows that cessation of migration during the consolidation phase was not due to substances present in the underlying agar medium. The ongoing swarming schedule was modifiable by separative cutting of the swarming front or disruption of the ring pattern by random mixing of the pattern-forming cell population. The structured cell population seemed to play a role in characteristic colony growth. However, separation of a narrow consolidation front from a backward area did not induce disturbance in the ongoing swarming schedule. Thus, cells at the frontal part of consolidation area were independent of the internal cell population and destined to exert consolidation and swarming with the ongoing ordinary schedule.

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