How molecular forces shape bacterial biofilms
Communities of bacterial cells can live together embedded within a slime-like molecular matrix as a biofilm. This allows the bacteria to hide from external stresses. A single bacterium can replicate itself and develop into a biofilm, and over time the bacterial cells in specific regions of the biofilm will start to interact with their neighbors in different ways. Very little is known about the link between physical interaction forces and the structure of colonies and biofilms. In my talk I will discuss how mechanical interactions between bacteria govern the structure and dynamics of bacterial biofilms. We have generated a molecular toolbox that allows tuning the interaction forces systematically. Using this toolbox, we address the question how differential interaction forces govern cell sorting, biofilm structures, and shape relaxations. In the long term, we aim at understanding how bacteria benefit from different biofilm architectures.