Living organisms often display adaptive strategies that allow them to move efficiently even in strong confinement. With one single degree of freedom, the angle of a rotating bundle of flagella, bacteria provide one of the simplest examples of locomotion in the living world. Here we show that a purely physical mechanism, depending on a hydrodynamic stability condition, is responsible for a confinement induced transition between two swimming states in E. coli. While in large channels bacteria always crash onto confining walls, when the cross section falls below a threshold, they leave the walls to move swiftly on a stable swimming trajectory along the channel axis. We investigate this phenomenon for individual cells that are guided through a sequence of micro-fabricated tunnels of decreasing cross section. Our results challenge current theoretical predictions and suggest effective design principles for microrobots by showing that motility based on helical propellers provides a robust swimming strategy for exploring narrow spaces.

A transition to stable one-dimensional swimming enhances E. coli motility through narrow channels / Vizsnyiczai, G.; Frangipane, G.; Bianchi, S.; Saglimbeni, F.; Dell'Arciprete, D.; Di Leonardo, R.. - In: NATURE COMMUNICATIONS. - ISSN 2041-1723. - 11:1(2020). [10.1038/s41467-020-15711-0]

A transition to stable one-dimensional swimming enhances E. coli motility through narrow channels

Vizsnyiczai G.;Frangipane G.;Bianchi S.;Saglimbeni F.;Dell'Arciprete D.;Di Leonardo R.
2020

Abstract

Living organisms often display adaptive strategies that allow them to move efficiently even in strong confinement. With one single degree of freedom, the angle of a rotating bundle of flagella, bacteria provide one of the simplest examples of locomotion in the living world. Here we show that a purely physical mechanism, depending on a hydrodynamic stability condition, is responsible for a confinement induced transition between two swimming states in E. coli. While in large channels bacteria always crash onto confining walls, when the cross section falls below a threshold, they leave the walls to move swiftly on a stable swimming trajectory along the channel axis. We investigate this phenomenon for individual cells that are guided through a sequence of micro-fabricated tunnels of decreasing cross section. Our results challenge current theoretical predictions and suggest effective design principles for microrobots by showing that motility based on helical propellers provides a robust swimming strategy for exploring narrow spaces.
File allegati a questo prodotto
File Dimensione Formato  
Vizsnyiczai_A-transition_2020.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia: Versione editoriale (versione pubblicata con il layout dell'editore)
Licenza: Creative commons
Dimensione 1.98 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
1.98 MB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri PDF

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11573/1516475
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? 1
  • Scopus 7
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 8
social impact