Feature Of The Week 9/27/09: Collective Dynamics of Swimming Bacteria: OCT Studies
Feature Of The Week 9/27/09: Physical mechanisms governing large-scale organization of self-propelled biological microparticles, such as motor proteins, swimming bacteria, and other motile cells, attract significant attention among physicists and biologists. Scientists from Argonne National Laboratory, Imalux, and Cambridge University, discovered that commonly found bacteria such as Bacillus Subtilis are in fact highly efficient mixers for the liquid they live in. Thanks to original non-invasive optical coherence tomography developed by Imalux Corporation, OH, the scientists observed with unprecedented precision the phenomena unfolding in the liquid containing the bacterial suspension. The measurements revealed up to 100-fold increase of mixing and Oxygen intake rates due to coordinated swimming of the bacteria.
The study sheds a new light on possible survival mechanisms developed by bacterial colonies under harsh conditions. In addition, the results are important for fundamental and technological reasons, from understanding collective motion in groups of interacting animals such as bird flocks and fish schools to miniature bacteria-powered mixers and reactors.
The researchers on this project at Argonne National Laboratory were Andrey Sokolov, graduate student from Illinois Institute of Technology and now postdoc at Princeton University, and Igor Aranson, Materials Science Division. Raymond Goldstein is Professor at Cambridge University, UK, and Felix Feldchtein is Senior Scientist at Imalux Inc. This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences.
For more information see recent articles "Bacteria Give Stirring Performance" and "Enhanced Mixing and Spatial Instability in Concentrated Bacterial Suspensions". Courtesy Igor Aranson at Argonne National Laboratory. For better viewing click "Full Screen".