From molecular noise to behavioral variability in a single bacterium

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"From molecular noise to behavioural variability in a single bacterium"
Ekaterina Korobkova, Thierry Emonet, Jose M.G. Vilar, Thomas S. Shimizu, & Philippe Cluzel
Nature 428 574-578 (2004)

Soft Matter Keywords

bacteria, E. coli, chemotaxis, signaling pathway

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The authors present primarily experimental work regarding a study of the chemotaxis network governing the motion of Escherichia coli. In the past, experiments and models for this system have assumed that network properties can be inferred from population measurements, which has the unfortunately effect of masking temporal fluctuations of intracellular signaling events. Korobkova, et al. study a noise analysis of behavioural variations in individual bacteria as a route to inferring fundamental properties of the chemotaxis network. They observe some properties established by population measurements to not be conserved at the single-cell level and find behaviour of non-stimulated bacteria displaying temporal variations much larger than expected statistical fluctuation. The authors have also found that the temporal behavioural variablity is strong dependent on the concentration of a key network component.

Practical Application of Research

Though not immediately applicable in its own right, this research helps elucidate some of the features of the biological network and feedback that governs the motion of E. coli. Understanding this network could allow for precise genetic design of mutant strains of E. coli with particular locomotion controls. This is also a nice example of the overlap between physics and biology in which standard physical analyses are extended to biological systems to yield new isights.

Noise Analysis of Individual Bacterium


written by Donald Aubrecht