How bacteria tails whip up a thrust storm

2019-03-14 11:11:03

By Mark Buchanan They may be simple bacteria, but they have an expert take on the principles of fluid dynamics. Bugs such as Escherichia coli move by rotating a rod-like flagellum that trails from their cell wall. Experiments now show that this swimming stroke is no wild flailing, but a subtle technique to maximise thrust. To model the movement of a bacterium’s flagellum through water, mechanical engineer Bian Qian and colleagues at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island,