From microbial communities to cancer cells, many such complex collectives embody emergent and self-organising behaviour. Such behaviour drives cells to develop composite features such as formation of aggregates or expression of specific genes as a result of cell-cell interactions within a cell population. Currently, we lack universal mathematical tools for analysing the collective behaviour of biological swarms. To address this, we propose a multifractal inspired framework to measure the degree of emergence and self-organisation from scarce spatial (geometric) data and apply it to investigate the evolution of the spatial arrangement of Enterobacter cloacae aggregates. In a plate of semi-solid media, Enterobacter cloacae form a spatially extended pattern of high cell density aggregates. These aggregates nucleate from the site of inoculation and radiate outward to fill the entire plate. Multifractal analysis was used to characterise these patterns and calculate dynamics changes in emergence and self-organisation within the bacterial population. In particular, experimental results suggest that the new aggregates align their location with respect to the old ones leading to a decrease in emergence and increase in self-organisation.
Quantifying emergence and self-organisation of Enterobacter cloacae microbial communities
Valeriu Balaban, Sean Lim, Gaurav Gupta, James Boedicker & Paul Bogdan
Scientific Reportsvolume 8, Article number: 12416 (2018)