Three-dimensional model for the effective viscosity of bacterial suspensions

Brian M. Haines, Andrey Sokolov, Igor S. Aranson, Leonid Berlyand, Dmitry A. Karpeev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


We derive the effective viscosity of dilute suspensions of swimming bacteria from the microscopic details of the interaction of an elongated body with the background flow. An individual bacterium propels itself forward by rotating its flagella and reorients itself randomly by tumbling. Due to the bacterium's asymmetric shape, interactions with a prescribed generic (such as planar shear or straining) background flow cause the bacteria to preferentially align in directions in which self-propulsion produces a significant reduction in the effective viscosity, in agreement with recent experiments on suspensions of Bacillus subtilis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number041922
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 22 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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