Philipp Weber and colleagues have contributed to the discovery of novel cell shape and division modes in bacteria. In particular, some bacteria of the family Neisseriaceae, which can be found in the oral cavity of mammals, divide longitudinally unlike most bacteria described so far. Moreover, those species remain organised in multicellular caterpillar-shaped assemblies upon division. The work involves comparative genomics, ultrastructural and fluorescence microscopy, leading to the identification of growth patterns as well as genes and alleles associated with multicellularity and longitudinal division in bacteria. Philipp Weber previously investigated other non-canonical bacterial symbionts with intriguing lifestyles and morphologies. His work raises broad questions regarding the cell biology of bacteria and their evolution towards more complex organisms.
Nyongesa, S. et al. Evolution of longitudinal division in multicellular bacteria of the Neisseriaceae family. Nat Commun 13, 4853 (2022).
Weber, P. M. et al. FtsZ-mediated fission of a cuboid bacterial symbiont. Iscience 25, 103552 (2022).
Weber, P. M. et al. A Bidimensional Segregation Mode Maintains Symbiont Chromosome Orientation toward Its Host. Curr Biol 29, 3018-3028.e4 (2019).
Leisch, N. et al. Asynchronous division by non-ring FtsZ in the gammaproteobacterial symbiont of Robbea hypermnestra. Nature Microbiology 2, 1–5 (2016).