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Phys Rev Lett. 2004 Aug 27;93(9):098103. Epub 2004 Aug 24.

Self-concentration and large-scale coherence in bacterial dynamics.

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Department of Physics, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA.


Suspensions of aerobic bacteria often develop flows from the interplay of chemotaxis and buoyancy. We find in sessile drops that flows related to those in the Boycott effect of sedimentation carry bioconvective plumes down the slanted meniscus and concentrate cells at the drop edge, while in pendant drops such self-concentration occurs at the bottom. On scales much larger than a cell, concentrated regions in both geometries exhibit transient, reconstituting, high-speed jets straddled by vortex streets. A mechanism for large-scale coherence is proposed based on hydrodynamic interactions between swimming cells.

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