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Oliver Meacock


From the first recorded depiction of bacterial motility in a 1683 letter by van Leeuwenhoek, our understanding of it has expanded to include multiple mechanisms and species. Twitching motility is a specific form of bacterial motility that occurs on surfaces in which cells pull themselves around using molecular 'grappling hooks' known as type 4 pili. However, while we are obtaining an increasingly detailed molecular, genetic and physical view of this system within single cells, the biophysical interactions between cells are still relatively poorly understood. I investigate the relationship between the twitching motion of individual Pseudomonas aeruginosa cells and the collective motion of large groups of cells using a combination of individual-based modelling and cell imaging. A second strand of my research investigates how the motility of cells changes as they progress from single cells to mature biofilms, and how motility in the early stages of biofilm establishment affects eventual biofilm structure.