Collective behaviours in living systems : from bacteria to molecular motors

Abstract : The first part of my thesis is devoted to studying the self-organization of engineered strains of run-and-tumble bacteria Escherichia coli. This project, carried out in collaboration with synthetic biologists at Hong Kong University, has as its objective the exploration and decipherment of a novel self-organization mechanism in multi-species bacterial colonies. This was inspired by the fascinating question of how bacterial ecosystems comprising several species of bacteria can self-organize in space. By considering systems in which two strains of bacteria mutually regulate their motilities, I was able to show that reciprocal density control is a generic pattern-formation pathway: if two strains tend tomutually enhance their motility (strain A moves faster when strain B is present, and conversely),they undergo a pattern formation process leading to demixing between the two strains. Conversely, mutual inhibition of motility leads to pattern formation with colocalization. These results were validated experimentally by our biologist collaborators. Subsequently, I extended my study to systems composed of more than two interacting species, finding simple rules that can predict the spatial self-organization of an arbitrary number of species whose motility is under mutual control. This part of my thesis opens up a new route to understand the self-organization of bacterial colonies with competing strains, which is an important question to understand the dynamics of biofilms or bacterial ecosystems in soils.The second problem treated in my thesis is inspired by the collective behaviour ofmolecular motorsmoving along microtubules in the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells. A relevant model for the molecularmotors’ motion is given by a paradigmatic non-equilibrium system called Asymmetric Simple Exclusion Process (ASEP). In this one-dimensional lattice- based model, particles hop on empty neighboring sites at constant rates, with a leftright bias that drives the systemout of equilibrium. When connected at its ends to particle reservoirs, the ASEP is a prototypical example of one-dimensional boundary driven phase transitions. Realistic examples, however, seldom involve only one lane: microtubules are made of several tubulin tracks to which the motors can attach. In my thesis, I explained how one can theoretically predict the phase behaviour of complex multilane systems, in which particles can also hop between parallel lanes. In particular, I showed that the onedimensional phase transition seen in the ASEP survives this additional complexity but involves new features such as non-zero steady transverse currents and shear localization.
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Agnese Curatolo. Collective behaviours in living systems : from bacteria to molecular motors. Physics [physics]. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017USPCC244⟩. ⟨tel-02143186⟩

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