Unexpected bipolar flagellar arrangements and long-range flows driven by bacteria near solid boundaries

Luis H Cisneros, John O Kessler, Ricardo Ortiz, Ricardo Cortez, Martin A Bees

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Experiments and mathematical modeling show that complex flows driven by unexpected flagellar arrangements are induced when peritrichously flagellated bacteria are confined in a thin layer of fluid, between asymmetric boundaries. The flagella apparently form a dynamic bipolar assembly rather than the single bundle characteristic of free swimming bacteria, and the resulting flow is observed to circulate around the cell body. It ranges over several cell diameters, in contrast to the small extent of the flows surrounding free swimmers. Results also suggest that flagellar bundles on bacteria that lie flat on a solid substrate have an effective rotation rate slower than "free" flagella. This discovery extends our knowledge of the dynamic geometry of bacteria and their flagella, and reveals new mechanisms for motility-associated molecular transport and intercellular communication.
Original languageEnglish
Article number168102
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2008

Bibliographical note

© 2008 The American Physical Society.

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