Undulatory swimming in shear-thinning fluids: Experiments with Caenorhabditis elegans

D. A. Gagnon, N. C. Keim, P. E. Arratia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R3
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Nov 10 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Undulatory swimming in shear-thinning fluids: Experiments with Caenorhabditis elegans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this