Shape effects on marine bacteria
Microbes in general, and bacteria in particular, exhibit great diversity in their shapes. However, while morphology is routinely linked to performance in multicellular organisms there are almost no similar studies in bacteria. Our lab has been exploring the functional aspects of bacterial shape, with particular emphasis on marine bacteria, and I will highlight a set of recent studies involving multiple cell tracking, microfluidic experiments and numerical modelling of the links between cell shape and motility. I will show that lengthening of individual cells has profound influences on both a range of motility parameters, and swimming-driven chemotactic behaviours, that have implications for the ecology of marine bacteria. Accurate numerical models of bacterial cell shape also allow us to show that a wide range of motile species, including spheres, straight-, and curved-rods, are Pareto optimal due a trade-off between construction cost, swimming efficiency, and chemotactic ability.