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Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2011 Dec;84(6 Pt 1):061908. Epub 2011 Dec 12.

Computational and experimental study of chemotaxis of an ensemble of bacteria attached to a microbead.

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  • 1Department of Mechanical Engineering Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA.


Micro-objects propelled by whole cell actuators, such as flagellated bacteria, are being increasingly studied and considered for a wide variety of applications. In this work we present theoretical and experimental investigations of chemotactic motility of a 10 μm diameter microbead propelled by an ensemble of attached flagellated bacteria. The stochastic model presented here encompasses the behavior of each individual bacterium attached to the microbead in a spatiotemporally varying chemoattractant field. The computational model shows that in a chemotactic environment, the ensemble of bacteria, although constrained, propel the bead in a chemotactic manner with a 67% enhancement in displacement to distance ratio (defined as directionality) compared to nonchemotactic propulsion. The simulation results are validated experimentally. Close agreement between theory and experiments demonstrates the possibility of using the presented model as a predictive tool for other similar biohybrid systems.

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