Bacteria on High Fat Diets Cooperate to Stay Fit
During the consumption of alkanes, Alcanivorax borkumensis, a bacteria commonly found in oil spill areas, form a biofilm around oil droplets to consume them. The role this plays during degradation remains unclear. Using in-situ microfluidic tracking, we identify a shift in biofilm morphology that depends on adaptation to oil consumption: longer exposure leads to the appearance of dendritic biofilms optimized for oil consumption effected through tubulation of the interface at localized defects in the interfacial cell ordering. To capture the full phenomenology, we developed a model that elucidates biofilm morphology, linking tubulation to decreased interfacial tension and increased cell hydrophobicity.