1. Enhanced mixing and spatial instability in concentrated bacterial suspensions

    High-resolution optical coherence tomography is used to study the onset of a large-scale convective motion in free-standing thin films of adjustable thickness containing suspensions of swimming aerobic bacteria. Clear evidence is found that beyond a threshold film thickness there exists a transition from quasi-two-dimensional collective swimming to three-dimensional turbulent behavior. The latter state, qualitatively different from bioconvection in dilute bacterial suspensions, is characterized by enhanced diffusivities of oxygen and bacteria. These results emphasize the impact of self-organized bacterial locomotion on the onset of three-dimensional dynamics, and suggest key ingredients necessary to extend standard models of bioconvection to incorporate effects of ...
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