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HFSP J. 2010 Feb;4(1):11-25. doi: 10.2976/1.3291142. Epub 2010 Feb 12.

Multiphase flow models of biogels from crawling cells to bacterial biofilms.

Abstract

This article reviews multiphase descriptions of the fluid mechanics of cytoplasm in crawling cells and growing bacterial biofilms. These two systems involve gels, which are mixtures composed of a polymer network permeated by water. The fluid mechanics of these systems is essential to their biological function and structure. Their mathematical descriptions must account for the mechanics of the polymer, the water, and the interaction between these two phases. This review focuses on multiphase flow models because this framework is natural for including the relative motion between the phases, the exchange of material between phases, and the additional stresses within the network that arise from nonspecific chemical interactions and the action of molecular motors. These models have been successful in accounting for how different forces are generated and transmitted to achieve cell motion and biofilm growth and they have demonstrated how emergent structures develop though the interactions of the two phases. A short description of multiphase flow models of tumor growth is included to highlight the flexibility of the model in describing diverse biological applications.

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