Functional trade-offs and phenotypic diversity in cellular migration

5 December 2014

Thierry Emonet
Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology and Physics
Yale University


Bacteria perform chemotaxis in a wide variety of environmental tasks, from scavenging nutrients to infecting host tissues. As such, it would seem unlikely that one type of chemotactic behavior would be equally suited to all tasks. Indeed, some species have many chemotaxis systems and switch between them. Others have one, but behavioral diversity is still observed in clonal wildtype cells. What are the trade-offs that bacteria face in performing chemotaxis in different environments? Can population diversity be tailored to resolve these trade-offs? I will discuss our recent theoretical and experimental efforts to uncover the functional role of phenotypic heterogeneity in cellular migration and understand how biological systems may resolve functional trade-offs.

current theory lunch schedule