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Published on Sep 27, 2012
Scientists at Rice University and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School have discovered how one of the world's smallest predators -- the soil bacteria Myxococcus xanthus -- cooperates to form millions-strong waves that engulf prey. In a September 2012 study in PLOS Computational Biology, the researchers showed that a computer model could recreate M. xanthus' wave patterns when cells were programmed to follow three simple rules: when two cells moving toward one another have side-to-side contact, they exchange a signal that causes one of them to reverse; a time interval after each reversal during which cells cannot reverse again; and physical interactions that cause the cells to align. Time-lapse video of M. xanthus waves is available at http://youtu.be/0ALM7X1_LqA. For more information, click http://tinyurl.com/9z2q3zp.