Phase transition of traveling waves in bacterial colony pattern
Authors: Wakano JY, Komoto A & Yamaguchi Y

Depending on the growth condition, bacterial colonies can exhibit different morphologies. Many previous studies have used reaction diffusion equations to reproduce spatial patterns. They have revealed that nonlinear reaction term can produce diverse patterns as well as nonlinear diffusion coefficient. Typical reaction term consists of nutrient consumption, bacterial reproduction, and sporulation. Among them, the functional form of sporulation rate has not been biologically investigated. Here we report experimentally measured sporulation rate. Then, based on the result, a reaction diffusion model is proposed. One-dimensional simulation showed the existence of traveling wave solution. We study the wave form as a function of the initial nutrient concentration and find two distinct types of solution. Moreover, transition between them is very sharp, which is analogous to phase transition. The velocity of traveling wave also shows sharp transition in nonlinear diffusion model, which is consistent with the previous experimental result. The phenomenon can be explained by separatrix in reaction term dynamics. Results of two-dimensional simulation are also shown and discussed.