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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN SYSTEM
Doing Business As Name:University of Wisconsin-Madison
PD/PI:
  • Douglas B Weibel
  • (608) 890-1342
  • weibel@biochem.wisc.edu
Award Date:08/16/2011
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 467,711
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 467,711
  • FY 2011=$467,711
Start Date:08/15/2011
End Date:07/31/2015
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Studying the Structure and Function of Flagella in the Emergent Properties of Bacterial Communities
Federal Award ID Number:1120832
DUNS ID:161202122
Parent DUNS ID:041188822
Program:Cellular Dynamics and Function

Awardee Location

Street:21 North Park Street
City:MADISON
State:WI
ZIP:53715-1218
County:Madison
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:02

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Wisconsin-Madison
Street:21 North Park Street
City:MADISON
State:WI
ZIP:53715-1218
County:Madison
Country:US
Cong. District:02

Abstract at Time of Award

Intellectual Merit Bacteria are not solitary organisms. In their native habitats, bacteria form large, dense, and often diverse communities in contact with surfaces. Many bacteria use flagella to swim through fluids and to attach to surfaces, which is an important step in establishing communities. However, very little is understood about the role of flagella during the growth and development of communities. Several observations suggest that flagella play an important role in coordinating the movement of cells, which is crucial for the behavior and physiology of multi-cellular structures. This project studies the role of flagella in community development in three model bacteria and will develop a framework for understanding how the coordination of behavior of many individual cells produces multi-cellular behavior. Broader Impacts This project will have a scientific impact across a range of age groups, including one graduate student and postdoctoral fellow who will have opportunities for: 1) mentoring undergraduate research assistants; 2) working closely with a collaborator in engineering; 3) participating in scientific conferences; 4) collaborating on the design and development of science outreach projects with local K-8 teachers; and 5) participating in science outreach events for K-8 students and their families. This project includes hosting local teachers as summer interns in the lab for the development of age-specific microbe-related activities that will be integrated into classrooms and after-school programs in the Madison Metropolitan School District. These activities will also be used for one-day family events at local libraries and the Childrens' Museum in Madison. This research will thus enrich the science education of postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students, K-8 teachers, and K-8 students and their families.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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P. C. Mushenheim, R. R. Trivedi, D. B. Weibel, N. L. Abbott "Anisotropy in Soft Interfaces Changes Fundamental Behaviors of Motile Bacteria" Biophysical Journal, v., 2014, p..

J. M. Swiecicki, O. Sliusarenko, D. B. Weibel "From Swimming to Swarming: Escherichia coli Motility in Two-Dimensions" Integrative Biology, v.5, 2013, p.1490.

P. C. Mushenheim, R. R. Trivedi, D. B. Weibel, N. L. Abbott "Anisotropy in Soft Interfaces Changes Fundamental Behaviors of Motile Bacteria" Biophysical Journal, v.107, 2014, p.255.

J. M. Swiecicki, O. Sliusarenko, D. B. Weibel "From Swimming to Swarming: Escherichia coli Motility in Two-Dimensions" Integrative Biology, v., 2013, p..

J. A. Crooks, M. D. Stilwell, P. M. Oliver, Z. Zhong, D. B. Weibel "Decoding the Chemical Language of Motile Bacteria by Using High-Throughput Microfluidic Assays" ChemBioChem, v., 2015, p..

M. Hemling, J. A. Crooks, P. M. Oliver, K. Brenner, J. Gilbertson, G. C. Lisensky, D. B. Weibel "Microfluidics for High School Chemistry Students" Journal of Chemical Education, v.91, 2014, p.112.

H. H. Tuson, M. F. Copeland, S. Carey, R. Sacotte, D. B. Weibel "Flagella Density Regulates Proteus mirabilis Swarmer Cell Motility in Viscous Environments" Journal of Bacteriology, v., 2013, p..

T. M. A. Santos, T.-Y. Lin, M. Rajendran, Samantha Anderson, D. B. Weibel "Polar Localization of Escherichia coli chemoreceptors requires an intact Tol-Pal Complex" Molecular Microbiology, v., 2014, p..

P. C. Mushenheim, R. R. Trivedi, H. H. Tuson, D. B. Weibel, N. L. Abbott. "Dynamic Self-Assembly of Motile Bacteria in Liquid Crystals" Soft Matter, v.10, 2014, p..

H. H. Tuson, M. F. Copeland, S. Carey, R. Sacotte, D. B. Weibel "Flagella Density Regulates Proteus mirabilis Swarmer Cell Motility in Viscous Environments" Journal of Bacteriology, v.195, 2013, p.368.

N. Yin, T. M. A. Santos, G. K. Auer, J. A. Crooks, P. M. Oliver, D. B. Weibel "Bacterial Cellulose as a Substrate for Bacterial Cell Culture" Environmental Microbiology, v.80, 2014, p.1926.

M. Hemling, J. A. Crooks, P. M. Oliver, K. Brenner, J. Gilbertson, G. C. Lisensky, D. B. Weibel "Microfluidics for High School Chemistry Students" Journal of Chemical Education, v., 2014, p..

R. R. Trivedi, R. Maeda, N. L. Abbott, S. E. Spagnolie, D. B. Weibel "Bacterial transport of colloids in liquid crystalline environments" Soft Matter, v., 2015, p..

N. Yin, T. M. A. Santos, G. K. Auer, J. A. Crooks, P. M. Oliver, D. B. Weibel "Bacterial Cellulose as a Substrate for Bacterial Cell Culture" Applied and Environmental Microbiology, v., 2014, p..

T. M. A. Santos, T. -Y. Lin, M. Rajendran, S. M. Anderson, D. B. Weibel "Polar Localization of Escherichia coli chemoreceptors requires an intact Tol-Pal Complex" Molecular Microbiology, v.92, 2014, p.985.

H. H. Tuson, M. F. Copeland, S. Carey, R. Sacotte, D. B. Weibel "Flagella Density Regulates Proteus mirabilis Swarmer Cell Motility in Viscous Environments" Journal of Bacteriology, v.195, 2013, p.368.

P. C. Mushenheim, R. R. Trivedi, H. H. Tuson, D. B. Weibel, N. L. Abbott. "Dynamic Self-Assembly of Motile Bacteria in Liquid Crystals" Soft Matter, v.10, 2014, p.88.


Project Outcomes Report

Disclaimer

This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

This proposal studied how bacteria coordinate their movement in dynamic, high-density communities of cells that are relevant to infections, ecology, agriculture, maritime, and the industrial transport of liquids. We characterized different factors that affect cells on the adaptability --and hence survival--of the community, including the roles of: 1) interactions between flagella on adjacent cells; 2) the structure of flagella assemblies on cells; 3) close physical contact between the bodies of adjacent cells and the impact of cell length and speed; 4) physical constraints and confinement provided by surfaces and physical interfaces; and 5) fluid viscosity and fluid anisotropy (i.e., long-range physical structure in fluids). We studied how cells chemically, physically, and mechanically respond to surfaces and are continuing to work on uncovering the mechanisms by which bacteria sense surfaces and respond by changing their biochemistry and morphology to optimize their adaptability. We uncovered how surfaces reprogram some types of motile bacteria to change cell mechanical properties as they grow very long and become remarkably flexible, which enables them to pack to high density and maximize cell/cell contacts that are important for coordinating cell motility in communities. Interestingly, these cells are faced with an dilemma: their new pliability provides them with the ability to coordinate community behavior, yet they become highly susceptible to cell wall targeting antibiotics such as the beta-lactams, which kills them. As the long, flexible cell phenotype we studied have been suggested to be relevant to bacterial infections, our results suggest that the physiological state of this organism in infections may make it highly sensitive to beta-lactam antibiotics, thereby requiring much lower doses than typically used for infection treatment. Finally, we played a foundational role in uncovering a new field of bacterial motility by studying how cells move through anisotropic liquids that have orientational structure and order. Our findings suggest that the mechanism anisotropy of liquids around cells (which arises from the orientation of molecules dissolved in the liquid) can have surprising impacts on cell motion, interactions between cells, cell behavior, community organization, and cell adaptability. We are just beginning to understand this area and continuing to apply a combination of experiments, theory, and simulation will enable us to characterize this phenomena and its role in microbiology.

This project crossed the experimental and theoretical boundary by developing collaborations with chemical engineers and a mathematician to build and test models of bacterial interaction, and involved collaborations at a variety of different educations levels spanning from K-12 teachers to international faculty. The students and postdoctoral fellows who participated in this research received professional training in performing interdisciplinary, collaborative research and learned new areas of science from interacting closely with world experts. To broaden the impact of this research, we developed a suite of science modules for K-12 students in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) that focused on exploring bacterial growth and death, motility, chemical communication, and chemotaxis. These activities were designed to teach science broadly by drawing connections between microbiology and chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Working closely with and collaborating with K-12 teachers enabled us to bring these new science activities directly to middle and high school classrooms to enrich student learning. These collaborations also provided opportunities for the professional development of teachers, and training undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in communicating science.


Last Modified: 12/01/2015
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