Myxobacteria are one of the most ancient groups of organisms to engage in social behavior, altruism, and predation. During vegetative growth groups of cells live in a multicellular biofilm community where they prey on other bacteria for food. When deprived of nutrients tens of thousands of cells build a fruiting body containing myxospores. Developing cells respond to a variety of cell-cell signals to activate developmental genes according to a temporal and spatial program prescribed in the DNA. We study two contact-dependent cell-cell signaling systems with Myxococcus xanthus. One utilizes the CsgA (C-signaling) protein, which acts as a developmental timer to couple gene expression with morphological development. The other signaling system uses the Dif chemosensory system to organize the dimensions of the fruiting body. We use genetics, molecular biology, bioinformatics, and biochemistry to study the signal transduction pathways.
M. xanthus development:
Timelapse: total time 48Hr, 25X magnification