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Capillary interactions organize bacterial colonies

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ADIW04 - Anti-Diffusion in Multiphase and Active Flows

Many bacteria inhabit hydrated environments like soil, textiles and agar hydrogels in the lab. In these environments, cells are surrounded by a water meniscus, and they experience capillary forces. I will show that capillary forces organize bacterial colonies, enabling cells to aggregate into densely packed nematic layers while still allowing them to slide past one another. We develop an experimental apparatus that allows us to control bacterial collective behaviors by varying the strength and range of capillary forces. Our results suggest that capillary forces may be a ubiquitous physical ingredient in shaping microbial communities in partially hydrated environments.

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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