Research

Principles of Matrix Architecture in Biofilms

Biological tissues are complex 3D structures that form as cellular organisms get embedded in a matrix of self-produced fibrous biopolymers. Our group aims at clarifying the principles that guide tissue architecture. Therefore, we investigate how cells design and structure their extracellular matrix into a complex 3D supracellular microenvironment that both i) matches the physical constraints of the host surface and ii) fulfills mechanical and biological functions. To do so, we adopt a top-down approach inspired by material science, which consists in:

  • macroscopic spatiotemporal characterizations of tissue geometry and mechanics
  • microscopic structural investigations of tissue organization
  • computational modeling of biophysical laws involved in the emergence of tissue patterns

Biofilms are currently our main focus. These tissue-like complex 3D structures made of biopolymers produced by bacteria are known for their negative effects on human health, antibiotics resistance and industrial processes. Understanding how these biological materials are built would thus help to design strategies to prevent their formation and favor their elimination. Moreover, biofilms have become a great source of inspiration to design biosourced materials with dynamics properties, which also greatly motivates our research. 

In order to get insights into the principles of matrix architecture in microbial tissues, we study biofilms geometrical, mechanical and chemical behavior as they are grown or maintained in various physical and chemical environments. For this, we developed live-imaging, image analysis and sample preparation methods, which we use in combination with fluorescence stereomicroscopy, spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction techniques.

 

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