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Biophys J. 2012 Apr 4;102(7):1514-23. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.03.001. Epub 2012 Apr 3.

Direct upstream motility in Escherichia coli.

Author information

1
School of Engineering and Technology, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, USA.

Abstract

We provide an experimental demonstration of positive rheotaxis (rapid and continuous upstream motility) in wild-type Escherichia coli freely swimming over a surface. This hydrodynamic phenomenon is dominant below a critical shear rate and robust against Brownian motion and cell tumbling. We deduce that individual bacteria entering a flow system can rapidly migrate upstream (>20 μm/s) much faster than a gradually advancing biofilm. Given a bacterial population with a distribution of sizes and swim speeds, local shear rate near the surface determines the dominant hydrodynamic mode for motility, i.e., circular or random trajectories for low shear rates, positive rheotaxis for moderate flow, and sideways swimming at higher shear rates. Faster swimmers can move upstream more rapidly and at higher shear rates, as expected. Interestingly, we also find on average that both swim speed and upstream motility are independent of cell aspect ratio.

PMID:
22500751
PMCID:
PMC3318139
DOI:
10.1016/j.bpj.2012.03.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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