BN Seminar - Martin Ackermann (ETH Zurich): "Collective Functionality through Microbial Individuality"



16.00 hrs


Room E, Lorentzweg 1, Delft



According to the conventional view, the properties of an organism are a product of nature and nurture - of its genes and the environment it lives in. Recent experiments with unicellular organisms have challenged this view: several molecular mechanisms generate phenotypic variation independently of environmental signals, leading to variation in clonal groups. My presentation will focus on the functional consequences of this microbial individuality. I will discuss how phenotypic variation in clonal populations of bacteria can lead to the division of labor between individuals and allow clonal groups of bacteria to cope with environmental uncertainty. Then, I will describe recent experimental efforts to analyze how cell-cell interactions influence the expression of the phenotype and the dynamics of synthetically assembled consortia. The main focus of the presentation is how the behavior of individual cells, and interactions between cells, scales up to determine the functionality of groups and consortia.