Correlation properties of collective motion in bacterial suspensions

Shawn D. Ryan, Andrey Sokolov, Leonid Berlyand, Igor S. Aranson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The study of collective motion in bacterial suspensions has been of significant recent interest. To better understand the non-trivial spatio-temporal correlations emerging in the course of collective swimming in suspensions of motile bacteria, a simple model is employed: a bacterium is represented as a force dipole with size, through the use of a short-range repelling potential, and shape. The model emphasizes two fundamental mechanisms: dipolar hydrodynamic interactions and short-range bacterial collisions. Using direct particle simulations validated by a dedicated experiment, we show that changing the swimming speed or concentration alters the time scale of sustained collective motion, consistent with experiment. Also, the correlation length in the collective state is almost constant as concentration and swimming speed change even though increasing each greatly increases the input of energy to the system. We demonstrate that the particle shape is critical for the onset of collective effects. In addition, new experimental results are presented illustrating the onset of collective motion with an ultrasound technique. This work exemplifies the delicate balance between various physical mechanisms governing collective motion in bacterial suspensions and provides important insights into its mesoscopic nature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105021
JournalNew Journal of Physics
StatePublished - Oct 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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