University of Dundee

"Monte Carlo Simulation of Twitching Motility in P. Aeruginosa"

Event Date: 
Friday, February 14, 2020 - 11:00
Event Location: 
School of Life Sciences, MSI Small Lecture Theatre
Dr Rastko Sknepnek
Event Speaker: 
Daniel Barton
Institute of Physics, The Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing
Event Type: 

It is well known that bacteria use an arrangement of one or more flagella to “swim” through liquid. Perhaps not surprising is that in order to move on surfaces, bacteria have developed other appendages. In particular, type IV pili are thin filaments used to drive a type of erratic yet efficient surface motion called Twitching. Pili have one end attached to a molecular motor while the other end can bind strongly to the surface, allowing the bacterium to drag its body around by repeated extension and retraction of these filaments. Our study is focused on the rod shaped bacteria, P. Aeruginosa, a model organism which exhibits Twitching.


We combine data from direct observations of Twitching motion with that from experiments on individual pili to parameterise our model. We then produce simulated trajectories using a kinetic Monte Carlo simulation with physical constraints. We also extend our simulations to include surfaces of varying topography. This project has two objectives, firstly we may compare simulated and experimental trajectories to obtain estimates for parameters which are difficult to measure experimentally and secondly we may predict the behaviour of bacteria on surfaces with curvature or obstacles.