Skip to Main Content
Traditionally, the main role of cell-cell communication was thought of as synchronizing a population of cells, thereby coordinating cellular behavior. Here, we show that cell density, which quantifies cellular communication, can induce multistability and multirhythmicity in a synthetic multicellular system, where individual oscillators are a merge of repressilator and hysteresis-based oscillator and are coupled through a quorum-sensing mechanism. Specifically, for moderately small cell densities, the coupled system can exhibit multistability including stable homogenous and inhomogeneous steady states. For moderately large cell densities, it has potentials to generate multirhythmicity including multi-mode oscillations such as in-phase period-1 oscillation, antiphase period-2 oscillation, asymmetric period-2 oscillation, and oscillations with mixed modes, coexistence of periodic orbits of several different modes, and bursting oscillations such as periodic bursting, torus quasi-periodic bursting, and chaos. Such versatility of cell-cell communication would be beneficial for cells or organisms to live in diversely changeable environments.