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When gene regulatory networks operate in regimes where the number of protein molecules is so small that the molecular species are on the verge of extinction, the death and resurrection of the species greatly modifies the attractor landscape. Deterministic models and the diffusion approximation to the master equation break down at the limits of protein(More)
Bacteria serve as the central arena for understanding how gene networks and proteins process information and control cellular behaviors. Recently, much effort has been devoted to the investigation of specific bacteria gene circuits as functioning modules. The next challenge is the integrative modeling of complex cellular networks composed of many such(More)
The role of stochasticity and noise in controlling genetic circuits is investigated in the context of transitions into and from competence in Bacillus subtilis. Recent experiments have demonstrated that bistability is not necessary for this function, but that the existence of one stable fixed point (vegetation) and an excitable unstable one (competence) is(More)
Because genetic networks function with few molecules, such systems are better described by stochastic models than by macroscopic kinetics. Stochastic simulations of a self-regulating gene are compared with analytical solutions of the master equations, showing how the dynamics depends on the average number of proteins in the system, the repression strength,(More)
Sporulation vs. competence provides a prototypic example of collective cell fate determination. The decision is performed by the action of three modules: 1) A stochastic competence switch whose transition probability is regulated by population density, population stress and cell stress. 2) A sporulation timer whose clock rate is regulated by cell stress and(More)
The choice that bacteria make between sporulation and competence when subjected to stress provides a prototypical example of collective cell fate determination that is stochastic on the individual cell level, yet predictable (deterministic) on the population level. This collective decision is performed by an elaborated gene network. Considerable effort has(More)
M ost WT bacteria thrive in multicellular communities in the form of biofilms (1). Biofilms have a highly complex 3D architecture that allows the colonization of virtually any nonshedding surface, protection against most environmental stress and a base for future surface colonization by other microorganisms. Biofilms are commonly present in water pipes, oil(More)
The lag phase of bacterial growth is important from a medical and food safety perspective, but difficult to study due to the low density and metabolic rate of cells. A new study by Alon and colleagues reveals that the gene expression program during early lag phase prioritizes carbon source utilization enzymes over genes responsible for biomass accumulation.(More)
The corallivorous crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster spp.) is a major cause of coral mortality on Indo-Pacific reefs. Despite considerable research into the biology of crown-of-thorns starfish, our understanding of the early post-settlement life stage has been hindered by the small size and cryptic nature of recently settled individuals. Most growth(More)