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Microbial mutualism at a distance: The role of geometry in diffusive exchanges

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Otti CrozeORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2018 authors. Published by the American Physical Society. Published by the American Physical Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the published article's title, journal citation, and DOI.The exchange of diffusive metabolites is known to control the spatial patterns formed by microbial populations, as revealed by recent studies in the laboratory. However, the matrices used, such as agarose pads, lack the structured geometry of many natural microbial habitats, including in the soil or on the surfaces of plants or animals. Here we address the important question of how such geometry may control diffusive exchanges and microbial interaction. We model mathematically mutualistic interactions within a minimal unit of structure: two growing reservoirs linked by a diffusive channel through which metabolites are exchanged. The model is applied to study a synthetic mutualism, experimentally parametrized on a model algal-bacterial co-culture. Analytical and numerical solutions of the model predict conditions for the successful establishment of remote mutualisms, and how this depends, often counterintuitively, on diffusion geometry. We connect our findings to understanding complex behavior in synthetic and naturally occurring microbial communities.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Peaudecerf FJ, Bunbury F, Bhardwaj V, Bees MA, Smith AG, Goldstein RE, Croze OA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Physical Review E

Year: 2018

Volume: 97

Issue: 2

Print publication date: 01/02/2018

Online publication date: 20/02/2018

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

Date deposited: 29/04/2021

ISSN (print): 2470-0045

ISSN (electronic): 2470-0053

Publisher: American Physical Society


DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.97.022411

PubMed id: 29548216


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