Dense suspensions of motile bacteria, possibly including the human gut microbiome, exhibit collective dynamics akin to those observed in classic, high Reynolds number turbulence with important implications for chemical and biological transport, yet this analogy has remained primarily qualitative. Here, we present experiments in which a dense suspension of Bacillus subtilis bacteria was flowed through microchannels and the velocity statistics of the flowing suspension were quantified using a recently developed velocimetry technique coupled with vortex identification methods. Observations revealed a robust intermittency phenomenon, whereby the average velocity profile of the suspension fluctuated between a plug-like flow and a parabolic flow profile. This intermittency is a hallmark of the onset of classic turbulence and Lagrangian tracking revealed that it here originates from the presence of transient vortices in the active, collective motion of the bacteria locally reinforcing the externally imposed flow. These results link together two entirely different manifestations of turbulence and show the potential of the microfluidic approach to mimic the environment characteristic of certain niches of the human microbiome.

Intermittent turbulence in flowing bacterial suspensions

BUZZACCARO, STEFANO;PIAZZA, ROBERTO;
2016

Abstract

Dense suspensions of motile bacteria, possibly including the human gut microbiome, exhibit collective dynamics akin to those observed in classic, high Reynolds number turbulence with important implications for chemical and biological transport, yet this analogy has remained primarily qualitative. Here, we present experiments in which a dense suspension of Bacillus subtilis bacteria was flowed through microchannels and the velocity statistics of the flowing suspension were quantified using a recently developed velocimetry technique coupled with vortex identification methods. Observations revealed a robust intermittency phenomenon, whereby the average velocity profile of the suspension fluctuated between a plug-like flow and a parabolic flow profile. This intermittency is a hallmark of the onset of classic turbulence and Lagrangian tracking revealed that it here originates from the presence of transient vortices in the active, collective motion of the bacteria locally reinforcing the externally imposed flow. These results link together two entirely different manifestations of turbulence and show the potential of the microfluidic approach to mimic the environment characteristic of certain niches of the human microbiome.
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
11311-1001472_Buzzaccaro.pdf

accesso aperto

: Post-Print (DRAFT o Author’s Accepted Manuscript-AAM)
Dimensione 2.8 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
2.8 MB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

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/11311/1001472
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? 3
  • Scopus 13
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 12
social impact