Bioengineering Colloquium - Highlight Seminar - Conflicts and synergies between individuality and collective behavior

Cells live in communities where they interact with each other and their environment. By coordinating individuals, such interactions often result in collective behavior that emerge on scales larger than the individuals that are beneficial to the population. At the same time, populations of individuals, even isogenic ones, display phenotypic heterogeneity, which diversifies individual behavior and enhances the resilience of the population in unexpected situations. This raises a dilemma: although individuality provides advantages, it also tends to reduce coordination. I will report on our recent experimental and theoretical efforts that use bacterial chemotaxis as model system to understand, the origin of individual cellular behavior and performance, and how populations of cells reconciliate individuality with group behavior during collective migration. I will then discuss the conditions in which diversity is valuable (or not) for collectively-migrating populations that grow and encounter varying environments during travel.

This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant R01GM106189, the Allen Distinguished Investigator Program (grant 11562) through The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, and the James S. McDonnell Foundation grant on Complexity


December 13, 2019


3:00 p.m.


Engineering Quad A Wing / A224