|Photo courtesy of Jan Tech|
Because plants are so vital to us (think food, raw materials, landscapes, etc.), there is a real interest in understanding what the microbial contribution to the plant ecosystem is. One lingering question, for instance, is how bacteria colonize the surface of leaves (what we call the phyllosphere). What we do know is that bacteria on leaf surfaces appear as clusters of cells, rather than an even layer of bacteria covering the surface; the mechanisms that lead to this colonization pattern, however, is not well understood. I have already written about this question in a previous post that dealt with the use of bacterial bioreporters. Another way to explore these mechanisms of cluster formation is computer-based modelling, which enables us to test different scenarios and compare it with what has been observed on real plants.