The swimming behaviour of micro-organisms can be strongly influenced by the rheology of their fluid environment. In this article, we experimentally investigate the effects of shear-thinning (ST) viscosity on the swimming behaviour of an undulatory swimmer, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Tracking methods are used to measure the swimmer's kinematic data (including propulsion speed) and velocity fields. We find that ST viscosity modifies the velocity fields produced by the swimming nematode but does not modify the nematode's speed and beating kinematics. Velocimetry data show significant enhancement in local vorticity and circulation and an increase in fluid velocity near the nematode's tail. These findings are compared with recent theoretical and numerical results.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering