In nature, swarming behavior has evolved repeatedly among motile organisms because it confers a variety of beneficial emergent properties. These include improved information gathering, protection from predators, and resource utilization. Some organisms, e.g., locusts, switch between solitary and swarm behavior in response to external stimuli. Aspects of swarming behavior have been demonstrated for motile supramolecular systems composed of biomolecular motors and cytoskeletal filaments, where cross-linkers induce large scale organization. The capabilities of such supramolecular systems may be further extended if the swarming behavior can be programmed and controlled. Here, we demonstrate that the swarming of DNA-functionalized microtubules (MTs) propelled by surface-adhered kinesin motors can be programmed and reversibly regulated by DNA signals. Emergent swarm behavior, such as translational and circular motion, can be selected by tuning the MT stiffness. Photoresponsive DNA containing azobenzene groups enables switching between solitary and swarm behavior in response to stimulation with visible or ultraviolet light.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)