To get around, Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterium use a number of motility strategies, such as twitching and gliding. In this image, we see a special kind of bacterial motility behavior known as swarming, where a mass of bacteria moves collectively across a surface. This is an example of singled celled bacterial species acting in a multicellular way. For a group of cells to swarm, the bacterium need to be communicating and need to be on a semi-solid surface. The patterns of pigment production and the demarcation of the colonies show that the cells are communicating in other ways.
Contributed by Ian Hill, a fifth year graduate student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences program at Harvard University, and our Featured Artist for January and February, 2018. To meet Ian and see more of his art, click here.