2013, Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems
The mention of bacteria usually brings to mind the picture of a swimming cell, however, most bacteria on earth are stuck to surfaces and form complex communities – biofilms. Biofilms are responsible for myriad problems, including tooth decay and severe infections. Biofilms need food to grow and survive, but, as they expand, the diffusion of nutrients becomes too slow. Large organisms, such as humans, solve this problem by making blood vessels that rapidly carry food in our bodies. We show that some biofilms form a similar network of channels which transport nutrients throughout the biofilm.