"Myxos" - how they are made

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myxos & science

Three levels of abstraction of the myxo bacteria automaton:

The simulation of myxo bacteria used for Pixelsex is based on a hexagonal cellular automaton. On the left side you see the view of the work flow. The image at the right side show the version for pixelsex reduced on the green dots which are decisive for the cell interaction.
The automaton is based on hexagonal, honeycomb like grid to represent the bacteria more adequately. For Pixelsex the images has to be transformed for the quadratic grid of the facade. This has an interesting effect of blinking pixels.

microscopy of a single myxo bacterium and the pattern resulting of the group dynamics

The scientific relevance

The simulation is part of an interdisciplinary research project, bringing together experimentalists from Marburg (MPI-TM) and theoreticians from Dresden (TU).

The aim of the research project is understand how living systems take advantage of natural mechanisms of self organization to form specific cell patterns and tissues. Actually we are investigating the formation of highly structured, three dimensional fruiting bodies evolving from unstructured populations of myxobacteria.

The automaton-like model of the rod-shaped myxobacteria is defined on a hexagonal grid where a set of grid nodes approximates a single cell. The simulation is performed with discrete time steps based on energetic rules considering the stiffness of a cell, cell to cell interactions and active cell motion. The model structure is very closely related to the extended Potts model used in physics for temperature dependent stochastic processes.

An early outcome of this very reduced model is the capability of rod-shaped cells to form swarms if they actively move.

Jörn Starruß's myxo automaton used for "Pixelsex". Click on the image to watch a motion picture ( 605 Kb)


cellular automaton: Jörn Starruß/ TU Dresden
concept: Tim Otto Roth
September 2005

read more about pixelsex: http://www.piexelsex.org/pixelsex.html