Chapter 17 : Swarming Adventures

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The author and Lindianne Alberti checked out every condition reported to induce swarm cell differentiation in , exhaustively comparing the findings with until it became quite clear that they were not comparable. For starters, made only one kind of flagella and remained peritrichously flagellated during both swimming and swarming. Discovery of the role of surfactants came after their move to the University of Texas at Austin, when they published their second and last swarming paper, in which they reported the isolation of nonswarming transposon mutants. They learned that the agars were made from seaweed found in different coastal waters, and surmised this because O-antigen mutants of became just as fastidious as in their requirement for Eiken agar, whereas wild-type with an intact O-antigen could swarm on Bacto agar. While the unrealized quest of their swarming work was to find signals and signaling pathways that led to swarm cell differentiation, the realized results have been just as revealing. First, it was agreed that there are two kinds of swarmers, complex swarmers like and that have distinct flagella for swarming, and simple swarmers like and that do not. The author and Alberti proposed that the lag associated with buildup of cell density is the time required to secrete sufficient osmotic agents to allow adequate hydration.

Citation: Harshey R. 2011. Swarming Adventures, p 163-171. In Maloy S, Hughes K, Casadesús J (ed), The Lure of Bacterial Genetics. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816810.ch17
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Image of FIGURE 1

Swarming (A) Cells were inoculated in the center of a 0.75% agar plate containing peptone-glycerol medium and incubated overnight at 30°C. (B) Advancing edge of a swarming raft viewed with a 40 × long-working distance objective. (C) Swimmer cells from broth-grown culture, stained to observe fla-gella ( ). (D) Swarmer cells from the edge of the colony, similarly stained.

Citation: Harshey R. 2011. Swarming Adventures, p 163-171. In Maloy S, Hughes K, Casadesús J (ed), The Lure of Bacterial Genetics. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816810.ch17
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Image of FIGURE 2

Rescue of swarming in a chemoreceptor-less strain by increasing motor reversals. Swim (0.3% agar) and swarm (0.6% agar) plates were inoculated with a mutant devoid of all chemoreceptors but harboring a plasmid generating CheY∽P from a chemoreceptor fragment expressed from an inducible promoter ( ). In the absence of inducer, the strain was nonchemotactic and nonswarming. With increasing inducer concentrations (downward arrow), the initial CCW bias of the strain gradually shifted CW. The strain remained nonchemotactic as seen from lack of outward migration on swim plates, but the swarming defect was overcome by the altered motor bias.

Citation: Harshey R. 2011. Swarming Adventures, p 163-171. In Maloy S, Hughes K, Casadesús J (ed), The Lure of Bacterial Genetics. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816810.ch17
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