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Active modulation of surfactant-driven flow instabilities by swarming bacteria

TitleActive modulation of surfactant-driven flow instabilities by swarming bacteria
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsKotian, HS, Abdulla, AZ, Hithysini, KN, Harkar, S, Joge, S, Mishra, A, Singh, V, Varma, MM
JournalPhysical Review E

Models based on surfactant-driven instabilities have been employed to describe pattern formation by swarming bacteria. However, by definition, such models cannot account for the effect of bacterial sensing and decision making. Here we present a more complete model for bacterial pattern formation which accounts for these effects by coupling active bacterial motility to the passive fluid dynamics. We experimentally identify behaviors which cannot be captured by previous models based on passive population dispersal and show that a more accurate description is provided by our model. It is seen that the coupling of bacterial motility to the fluid dynamics significantly alters the phase space of surfactant-driven pattern formation. We also show that our formalism is applicable across bacterial species.