Enhanced mixing and spatial instability in concentrated bacterial suspensions

Andrey Sokolov, Raymond E. Goldstein, Felix I. Feldchtein, Igor S. Aranson

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169 Scopus citations


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 large-scale collective motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number031903
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 10 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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