09/12/2015 - 12:00 - Auditori PRBB

Metabolism and electrophysiology of bacterial biofilms: Lessons from an ancestral model of multicellularity

Scientific sessions, CRG Group Leader Seminars

Jordi Garcia-Ojalvo

Dynamical Systems Biology Lab, Evolutionary Biology and Complex Systems Programme, Dep. CEXS, UPF


Jordi Garcia-Ojalvo obtained his PhD in statistical physics at the University of Barcelona in 1995. He did postdoctoral work at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta in 1996, working on laser dynamics, and at the Humboldt University of Berlin in 1998 as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow, studying noise effects in excitable media. In 2003 he was IGERT Visiting Professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, at which time he began working in the field of systems biology. In 2008 he became Full Professor at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, where he had been teaching applied physics since 1991. He is Visiting Research Associate in Biology at the California Institute of Technology since 2006, and joined the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in October 2012. His work has been published in more than 150 articles in peer-reviewed journals, which have been cited more than 5,400 times in indexed journals. He has organized several international conferences, including the Noise in Life series (Barcelona 2006, Dresden 2007, Cambridge 2009, Benasque 2010), and in 2016 he will co-chair the International Conference on Systems Biology in Barcelona. He is academic editor of Fluctuations and Noise Letters (since 2009), PLoS ONE (since 2012), and Biomedical Physics and Engineering Express (founding editorial board member, since 2015).

Talk summary

Multicellular organisms rely on an exquisite coordination of cell populations in time and space. Expanding aggregates of undifferentiated cells offer the opportunity of uncovering the fundamental principles of self-organization underlying the early stages of this coordination. In this talk I will use bacterial biofilms as model systems for this purpose, discussing in particular how metabolic constraints regulate the growth of these cell communities. Our results show how these constraints lead to growth oscillations that help the bacterial community cope with conflicting demands of protection and nutrient availability. Furthermore, we observe that cells within these structured populations communicate their state of stress via electrical signals similar to those found in more complex cells such as neurons.