A unique self-organization of bacterial sub-communities creates iridescence in Cellulophaga lytica colony biofilms.
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Iridescent color appearances are widespread in nature. They arise from the interaction of light with micron- and submicron-sized physical structures spatially arranged with periodic geometry and are usually associated with bright angle-dependent hues. Iridescence has been reported for many animals and marine organisms. However, iridescence has not been well studied in bacteria. Recently, we reported a brilliant "pointillistic" iridescence in colony biofilms of marine Flavobacteria that exhibit gliding motility. The mechanism of their iridescence is unknown. Here, using a multi-disciplinary approach, we show that the cause of iridescence is a unique periodicity of the cell population in the colony biofilm. Cells are arranged together to form hexagonal photonic crystals. Our model highlights a novel pattern of self-organization in a bacterial biofilm. "Pointillistic" bacterial iridescence can be considered a new light-dependent phenomenon for the field of microbiology.
B.K. was a PhD student with a grant from the French Ministry of Research and Superior Teaching. This work was supported by a CNRS grant AIR75515 (“Bactéridescence” project) awarded to E.R. Partnerships with P.V. and T.R. were supported in part by ACI grants to E.R. (University of La Rochelle). S.L. was supported by the AFOSR grant FA9550-10-1-0020. We thank Dr Christophe Saint-Jean, Pr Michel Berthier and Jeffrey Kaplan for helpful discussions or comments.
Vol. 6, pp. 19906 -
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