Note to users. If you're seeing this message, it means that your browser cannot find this page's style/presentation instructions -- or possibly that you are using a browser that does not support current Web standards. Find out more about why this message is appearing, and what you can do to make your experience of our site the best it can be.


Logo for

Science 321 (5886): 256-259

Copyright © 2008 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Genetic Determinants of Self Identity and Social Recognition in Bacteria

Karine A. Gibbs,1* Mark L. Urbanowski,2* E. Peter Greenberg1{dagger}

Abstract: The bacterium Proteus mirabilis is capable of movement on solid surfaces by a type of motility called swarming. Boundaries form between swarming colonies of different P. mirabilis strains but not between colonies of a single strain. A fundamental requirement for boundary formation is the ability to discriminate between self and nonself. We have isolated mutants that form boundaries with their parent. The mutations map within a six-gene locus that we term ids for identification of self. Five of the genes in the ids locus are required for recognition of the parent strain as self. Three of the ids genes are interchangeable between strains, and two encode specific molecular identifiers.

1 Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
2 Department of Microbiology, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.

* These authors contributed equally to this work.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: epgreen{at}

The Complete Genome Sequence of Proteus mirabilis Strain BB2000 Reveals Differences from the P. mirabilis Reference Strain.
N. L. Sullivan, A. N. Septer, A. T. Fields, L. M. Wenren, and K. A. Gibbs (2013)
Genome Announc 1, e00024-13
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Two Independent Pathways for Self-Recognition in Proteus mirabilis Are Linked by Type VI-Dependent Export.
L. M. Wenren, N. L. Sullivan, L. Cardarelli, A. N. Septer, and K. A. Gibbs (2013)
mBio 4, e00374-13
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Mutually facilitated dispersal between the nonmotile fungus Aspergillus fumigatus and the swarming bacterium Paenibacillus vortex.
C. J. Ingham, O. Kalisman, A. Finkelshtein, and E. Ben-Jacob (2011)
PNAS 108, 19731-19736
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
The ubiquity of consciousness: The ubiquity of consciousness, cognition and intelligence in life.
A. J. Trewavas and F. Baluska (2011)
EMBO Rep. 12, 1221-1225
   Full Text »    PDF »
Identity Gene Expression in Proteus mirabilis.
K. A. Gibbs, L. M. Wenren, and E. P. Greenberg (2011)
J. Bacteriol. 193, 3286-3292
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Genomic analysis of the type VI secretion systems in Pseudomonas spp.: novel clusters and putative effectors uncovered.
M. Barret, F. Egan, E. Fargier, J. P. Morrissey, and F. O'Gara (2011)
Microbiology 157, 1726-1739
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Surviving Bacterial Sibling Rivalry: Inducible and Reversible Phenotypic Switching in Paenibacillus dendritiformis.
A. Be'er, E.- L. Florin, C. R. Fisher, H. L. Swinney, and S. M. Payne (2011)
mBio 2, e00069-11
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
A global network of coexisting microbes from environmental and whole-genome sequence data.
S. Chaffron, H. Rehrauer, J. Pernthaler, and C. von Mering (2010)
Genome Res. 20, 947-959
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Lethal protein produced in response to competition between sibling bacterial colonies.
A. Be'er, G. Ariel, O. Kalisman, Y. Helman, A. Sirota-Madi, H. P. Zhang, E.- L. Florin, S. M. Payne, E. Ben-Jacob, and H. L. Swinney (2010)
PNAS 107, 6258-6263
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
The Dienes Phenomenon: Competition and Territoriality in Swarming Proteus mirabilis.
A. E. Budding, C. J. Ingham, W. Bitter, C. M. Vandenbroucke-Grauls, and P. M. Schneeberger (2009)
J. Bacteriol. 191, 3892-3900
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Getting in Touch with Your Friends.
C. J. Marx (2009)
Science 324, 1150-1151
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »

To Advertise     Find Products

Science Signaling. ISSN 1937-9145 (online), 1945-0877 (print). Pre-2008: Science's STKE. ISSN 1525-8882