Dynamical Properties of Transient Spatio-Temporal Patterns in Bacterial Colony of Proteus mirabilis

Kazuhiko Watanabe*, Jun Ichi Wakita, Hiroto Itoh, Hirotoshi Shimada, Sayuri Kurosu, Takemasa Ikeda, Yoshihiro Yamazaki, Tohey Matsuyama, Mitsugu Matsushita

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Spatio-temporal patterns emerged inside a colony of bacterial species Proteus mirabilis on the surface of nutrient-rich semisolid agar medium have been investigated. We observed various patterns composed of the following basic types: propagating stripe, propagating stripe with fixed dislocation, expanding and shrinking target, and rotating spiral. The remarkable point is that the pattern changes immediately when we alter the position for observation, but it returns to the original if we restore the observing position within a few minutes. We further investigated mesoscopic and microscopic properties of the spatio-temporal patterns. It turned out that whenever the spatio-temporal patterns are observed in a colony, the areas are composed of two superimposed monolayers of elongated bacterial cells. In each area they are aligned almost parallel with each other like a two-dimensional nematic liquid crystal, and move collectively and independently of another layer. It has been found that the observed spatio-temporal patterns are explained as the moiré effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-656
Number of pages7
Journaljournal of the physical society of japan
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Feb
Externally publishedYes


  • Collective motion
  • Moiré image
  • Proteus mirabilis
  • Spatiotemporal patterns
  • Spiral pattern
  • Stripe pattern
  • Target pattern

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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