Main Menu (Mobile)- Block
Main Menu - Block
Note: Research in this publication was not performed at Janelia.
While the field of synthetic developmental biology has traditionally focused on the study of the rich developmental processes seen in metazoan systems, an attractive alternate source of inspiration comes from microbial developmental models. Microbes face unique lifestyle challenges when forming emergent multicellular collectives. As a result, the solutions they employ can inspire the design of novel multicellular systems. In this review, we dissect the strategies employed in multicellular development by two model microbial systems: the cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum and the biofilm-forming bacterium Bacillus subtilis. Both microbes face similar challenges but often have different solutions, both from metazoan systems and from each other, to create emergent multicellularity. These challenges include assembling and sustaining a critical mass of participating individuals to support development, regulating entry into development, and assigning cell fates. The mechanisms these microbial systems exploit to robustly coordinate development under a wide range of conditions offer inspiration for a new toolbox of solutions to the synthetic development community. Additionally, recreating these phenomena synthetically offers a pathway to understanding the key principles underlying how these behaviors are be coordinated naturally.