Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

PLoS One


Bacillus subtilis; Biofilms; Computer Simulation; Models, Biological; Morphogenesis; Stress, Mechanical


The complex morphologies observed in many biofilms play a critical role in the survival of these microbial communities. Recently, the formation of wrinkles has been the focus of many studies aimed at finding fundamental information on morphogenesis during development. While the underlying genetic mechanisms of wrinkling are not well-understood, recent discoveries have led to the counterintuitive idea that wrinkle formation is triggered by localized cell death. This work examines the hypothesis that the material properties of a biofilm both power and control wrinkle formation within biofilms in response to localized cell death. Using an agent-based model and a high-performance platform (Biocellion), we built a model that qualitatively reproduced wrinkle formation in biofilms due to cell death. Through the use of computational simulations, we determined important relationships between cellular level mechanical interactions and changes in colony morphology. These simulations were also used to identify significant cellular interactions that are required for wrinkle formation. These results are a first step towards more comprehensive models that, in combination with experimental observations, will improve our understanding of the morphological development of bacterial biofilms.


Institute for Systems Biology