Most people may think of bacteria, regardless of species and shape, as a single cell, or maybe several free-living cells. The problem with this image, according to microbiologists, is that it doesn’t reflect how most bacteria are likely to live. Often, bacteria use sticky molecules to anchor themselves to a surface, growing in collectives called biofilms. A new study shows that even bacteria floating in the open ocean, which lack an anchoring point for forming large conglomerates, exist in multicellular forms. The study builds on 2021 published research from Georgia Tech scientists that showed unicellular yeast forming multicellular clusters. The School of Biological Sciences researchers include Ozan Bozdag, research scientist; William Ratcliff, associate professor; Kai Tong, Ph.D. Quantitative Biosciences student, and Penelope Kahn. School of Physics researchers involved include Peter Yunker, assistant professor; Thomas C. Day, graduate student; and Seyed Alireza Zamani-Dahaj, Ph.D. student.
Ocean Bacteria Reveal an Unexpected Multicellular Form