Waterbacteria (Caulobacter crescentus) exist in two different forms: a mobile cell (called a “swarmer cell”) which is equipped with a hair-like flagellum to swim freely in the water and an immobile cell (called a “stalked cell”) which is equipped with an adhesive to attach the cell to the surface. Interestingly, both cells arise from asymmetrical cell division which is a complex and exceedingly rare process in nature and can e.g. lead to cancer.
Waterbacteria allow scientists to study asymmetrical cell division in depth and to learn more about the process of cell division in general. Additionally, the stalked cell produces THE strongest glue in nature, for a safe anchorage to any surface and induces the formation of biofilms. It’s a nasty problem for the maritime industry, since biofilms increase drag and annually lead to additional costs and waste of fuel.
The work was awarded ‘Best Scientific Image’ in 2008.